Is There a Link Between BPA (BisphenolA) and Diabetes?

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • In all of my Google searches for diabetes research, there seems to be an enormous list of articles on environmental factors that link diabetes diagnosis. But so many articles are biased to those who want us to believe that all natural methods would have prevented us from getting a chronic illness. 


    Last year, I joined a google group called "DiabetesandEnvironment" simply because I believe that it is in my best interest to keep an open mind.  I grew up in a holistic environment and understand it's value, but where I part company with "earthy crunchy" is when the blame game starts. The best outcome is individual and will probably be a combination of using conventional and alternative methods. So it is up to each of us to compare all the research and sort out the drama.

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    To me, the question of whether our environment plays a factor in the increase of diabetes diagnosis is a good one. Knowing what ultimately causes diabetes is a long way off, but perhaps the real profit from environmental information is what does common sense lend. Words like "endocrine disruptor"  just sound like a problem for people with diabetes! Would avoiding something mean we are less susceptible to complications, or reduce the need for insulin?  What would make our dysfunctional body work as best as it can?


    One particular endocrine disruptor, BPA, keeps popping up with related research that links beta cell function. BPA, BisphenolA is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are used in baby bottles, water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, cds, dvds and household electronics. 


    A study out of University of Rochester showed that detectable levels of BPA were present in 90 percent of the participants tested.  Statistics were clear, people with levels three times higher then lowest tested were vulnerable to cardiovascular disease and those with levels two times as high had very strong indications of insulin resistance.


    NIH published this abstract in June 2011:


    There is an increasing concern that chemicals in the environment are contributing to the global rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, there is limited evidence for direct effects of these chemicals on beta cell function. Therefore, the goals of this study were (1) to test the hypothesis that environmental contaminants can directly affect beta cell function and (2) examine mechanistic pathways by which these contaminants could affect beta cell function. Using mouse beta TC-6 cells, we examined the acute effects of 6 substances (benzo[a]pyrene, bisphenol A [BPA], propylparaben, methylparaben, perfluorooctanoic acid, and perfluorooctyl sulfone) on insulin secretion. Only BPA treatment directly affected insulin secretion. Furthermore, chronic exposure to BPA altered the expression of key proteins in the cellular and endoplasmic reticulum stress response. These data suggest that long-term BPA exposure may be detrimental to beta cell function and ultimately be an important contributor to the etiology of T2D. 


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    Canadians have also seen similar research and are taking more efforts to completely ban BPA products.  Some European countries have recommended that all baby products be made BPA free.  In the US, many manufacturers are making baby bottles bpa free, as well as other consumer goods. There is question over replacement plastics being better than BPA, but for someone like me the words "BPA and beta cell function," or any chemical with an association to beta cells should be on my reading list. 


    After reading all of this, I wondered about all the diabetes products we use, from blood glucose meters to insulin pumps, and the potential for higher levels for BPA in our blood serum levels. Canulas with plastics tips, sensors for cgm and I wonder.... While I will not reject my diabetes products that manage my health, I CAN watch for other places where BPA can be eliminated from my environment.


    In my little Google group of environmental watchdogs and diabetes friends, I am reminded to keep my treatment options open and my environment as healthy as I can make it.


Published On: August 22, 2011