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Health & Pregnancy

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Plastics Chemical BPA May Harm Human Fertility

However, experts say lab findings might not translate to real-life risk


The report was published online July 31 in the journal Human Reproduction.

Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of the Center for Human Reproduction at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., agreed that a laboratory finding does not necessarily mean the same effect will be seen in the real world.

"When you make a leap from the lab to patients you have to examine a whole different model," said Hershlag, who was not involved with the study. "To say from [the results] that this might explain part of unexplained infertility is a bit of a stretch. Unexplained infertility remains unexplained."

One industry group concurred, pointing out that real-world settings often do not mirror lab experiments.

"The physiological relevance of this study is entirely unclear since the BPA concentrations showing effects are vastly higher than the concentration of BPA that could be present in the human body," said Steve Hentges, of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council.

Hentges added that numerous animal studies, "consistently have concluded that BPA does not affect fertility or other reproductive parameters at any dose even remotely close to human exposure levels."

Hershlag also noted that the plastic equipment used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) may contain BPA and could affect the ability of eggs to mature, so it might be better to use glass. That, he suggested, might even improve the success of IVF.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of BPA in products such as baby bottles and sippy cups, but the chemical continues to be used in many other consumer products.

The most prominent continuing use of BPA is in the lining of aluminum and tin cans, where it prevents corrosion.

BPA also is found in inkless cash register receipts, which are coated with the chemical, and a study has shown increased BPA levels in the urine of people who have touched a receipt.

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