Thursday 16 September 2010
Rise in male infertility linked to plastic food and drink cartons
Men with the highest levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies had sperm counts which were 23 per cent lower on average than men with the least exposure, a study showed.
There was also a ten per cent increase in their sperm DNA damage.
BPA is used to harden plastics and is found in the linings of food and drink cans, reusable water bottles, CD cases, plastic cutlery and baby bottles.
Despite being banned in Canada, three US states and Denmark, British authorities insist the controversial compound is safe.
Damaged sperm are more likely to lead to infertility and a greater likelihood of miscarried foetuses and even birth defects.
BPA was found in 90 per cent of urine samples given by 190 men recruited at a fertility clinic for the Harvard University study.
They found a ten per cent rise in sperm DNA damage between those with the highest levels of BPA compared with those with the lowest.
Previous studies have shown adverse effects of the chemical on semen in rodents but none is thought to have reported a similar relationship in humans.
Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at Sheffield University, said: ‘This survey needs to be followed up. The inference is it’s not good for fertility but it’s also not good for any foetus.
'In extreme cases it could lead to disabilities but it’s more likely the pregnancy will end in a miscarriage.’
The Food Standards Agency said human exposure to the chemical via plastics is ‘well below levels considered harmful’.