Love to eat canned foods packaged in plastic containers? Beware, it may increase your risk for developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) -- an intestinal disorder that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract, a study showed.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical used in consumer products such as water bottles, containers to store food and beverages among others and is known to affect the crucial stages of development.
Exposure to BPA may also worsen the symptoms of the disease and elevate the mortality risk compared to untreated groups, the findings showed.
"This is the first study to show that BPA can negatively impact gut microbial amino acid metabolism in a way that has been associated with IBD," said co-author Jennifer DeLuca from the nutrition and food science department of Texas A&M University in the US.
Previous research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers made with it and may have possible health effects on the behaviour, the brain and prostate glands of foetuses, infants and children.
"While the causes of IBD have not yet been determined, environmental exposures such as diet, smoking, infections, altered gut microbiome and toxins or pollutants are risk-factors for development and relapse," said co-author Clint Allred, from the Texas A&M University in the US.
"One such risk factor, the hormone oestrogen, has been linked with an increased risk of IBD and BPA can act as an oestrogen.
"Furthermore, BPA has been previously shown to alter gut microbes like the gut microbiota is altered in IBD patients," Allred said.
Because humans are frequently exposed to BPA through consumption of canned foods and the use of polycarbonate plastic containers, it is important to find out just what effects BPA exposure may have on IBD, he noted.
For the study, published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine, the team used animal models and examined data on body weight and fecal consistency in addition to inflammation, injury and nodularity of the colon.
The results showed that exposure to BPA also increased the levels of several compounds that drive inflammation in the colon.