You’ve seen the commericials on television for various drugs designed to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), and a growing pharmaceutical industry has evolved from this male sexual problem closely associated with aging. But is growing older really to blame for ED? Not entirely, according to a new study that found Bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure is linked to increased risked of ED.
Grim news about BPA is constantly emerging. From heart disease to aggressive behavior, this endocrine disruptor is found in everyday products from tin cans to water bottles. Now men have something to fear from the chemical used in many plastics: sexual dysfunction.
According to new study published Human Reproduction, a peer-reviewed journal, exposure to BPA in the workplace can cause male reproductive problems. After following 600 male Chinese workers for five years, as reported in Medical News Today, the researchers found:
- BPA-exposed workers had a significantly higher risk of sexual dysfunction compared to the unexposed workers.
- BPA-exposed workers had a nearly four-fold increased risk of reduced sexual desire and overall satisfaction with their sex life.
- They also had a greater than four-fold increased risk of erection difficulty, and more than seven-fold increased risk of ejaculation difficulty.
- There was a dose-response relationship between increased level of cumulative BPA exposure and higher risk of sexual dysfunction.
- Compared to unexposed workers, BPA-exposed workers reported significantly higher frequencies of reduced sexual function within one year of starting work in a BPA-exposed factory.
Previous studies have found BPA to negatively affect hormones in mice, but “evidence from human studies was lacking”. Some of the Chinese factory workers’ BPA exposure was 50 times higher than the average US male; however, researchers are not sure what level of BPA exposure is safe. The study found that within 1 year of employment, “BPA-exposed workers reported significantly higher frequencies of reduced sexual function.”
Whether you work in a Chinese factory or not, BPA is a concern for all humans. In the introduction to the study, the authors report detectable BPA levels are found in 90% of urine samples taken in the US. No one is immune to this chemical that has been used for fifty years, and similar exposure rates have been found in other western countries. The authors conclude by warning:
This finding not only has public health implications for male fertility, but possibly for other health outcomes as well, since male sexual function may be a more sensitive and easily measured endpoint that provides early signals about the adverse BPA effects on other endpoints that are more difficult to study.
It is time we did something about BPA and eliminate it from consumer products.