Increasing BPA levels in urine associated with worsening male sexual function

May 27, 2010

Increasing Bisphenol-A levels in urine are associated with worsening male sexual function, according to a Kaiser Permanente study appearing online in the Journal of Andrology.

Increasing urine level is associated with decreased sexual desire, more difficulty having an erection, lower ejaculation strength and lower level of overall satisfaction with sex life, researchers said. The five-year study examined 427 workers in factories in China, comparing workers in BPA manufacturing facilities with a control group of workers in factories where no BPA was present.

BPA is an ingredient in manufacturing polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins and is now contained in a wide variety of consumer products from , plastic containers, and the resin lining of cans for food and beverages, to dental sealants. People can be exposed to BPA by using BPA-containing products.

In a previous related study, Kaiser Permanente researchers measured BPA exposure based on work history and environmental BPA exposure in the workplace. This new study measured urine BPA among participants and examined the correlation between their urine BPA level and their reported problems of sexual dysfunction.

"This is the first human study to show that high urine BPA is associated with lower male sexual function," said study lead author De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "Also, even among men exposed to BPA from only environmental sources (no occupational exposure and with average BPA level lower than the average observed in the American population), there were indications of an increased risk of sexual dysfunction." He explained that although the estimates in the environmentally exposed group were not statistically significant due to small sample size, this finding may enhance the understanding of the BPA effect in human populations with low-dose environmental exposure and have important public health implications.

The researchers observed a dose-response association between increasing urine BPA level and declining male sexual function. The observed negative association was consistent across all categories measuring male sexual dysfunction.

This study is the second part of Kaiser Permanente's ongoing research to look at BPA's reproductive effect in humans. Both studies are the first to look at BPA's reproductive effect in humans. The adverse effect of BPA on the male reproductive system previously had been examined in animal studies only.

The study was conducted among 427 male workers in four regions of China where high levels of BPA exposure existed. These regions were chosen because there were factories where BPA or epoxy resin was manufactured. Researchers also identified workers from factories with no occupational exposure to BPA in the work environment in the same regions. Many participants provided urine samples that were tested for BPA concentration using high-performance liquid chromatography. Male levels were ascertained using standard male sexual function inventories and through in-person interviews. Through the in-person interviews, researchers also ascertained information about potential confounders including demographic characteristics, factors that may influence sexual function -- including smoking, alcohol use, chronic diseases, exposure to other chemical and heavy metals -- and occupational history.

The researchers explained that BPA is suspected from animal research to be a highly suspect human endocrine disrupter, likely affecting both male and female reproductive systems.

"Toxins in the environment contribute to diseases and health conditions. Preventing those environmental exposures requires evidence, and this study greatly enhances our understanding of the health effects of BPA," said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente's vice president of Workplace Safety and environmental stewardship officer.

Explore further: Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

2 hours ago

The NHS should follow the lead of aviation and other safety-critical industries and establish an independent safety investigation agency, according to a paper published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The au ...

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

6 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Amy2010
not rated yet May 28, 2010
Let's see, more and more things are causing R/D and now we see that the meds intended to help R/D will cause other problems such as hearing loss. Is there any good news for the males?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.