Elevated bisphenol A levels found in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

January 20, 2011

A small British cross-sectional study has found increased blood levels of the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); however, the study does not prove that BPA contributes to PCOS.

 

A small British cross-sectional study has found increased blood levels of the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); however, the study does not prove that BPA contributes to PCOS.

Seventy-one women with PCOS had significantly higher average BPA levels than 100 healthy women of the same age and body mass index (1.05±0.56 ng/mL vs 0.72±0.37 ng/mL, respectively, P<.001). Investigators also found a significant association between BPA levels and levels of testosterone and androstenedione and a positive correlation with insulin resistance in the PCOS cohort.

Some evidence indicates that BPA and testosterone may interact, so high testosterone levels, such as those occurring in women with PCOS, could raise BPA levels. In addition, BPA may indirectly increase testosterone levels. Women with PCOS also have elevated insulin levels; it is thought that disruptions of insulin metabolism may underlie the other hormonal abnormalities of PCOS. Animal studies have suggested that BPA may influence insulin levels in the blood.

Researchers at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Hospital, West Yorkshire, write that it is unclear why women with PCOS had higher BPA levels than their healthy counterparts. Previous research suggests a potential role of BPA in development of PCOS in some women.

The investigators focused on BPA because it is an endocrine disruptor with weak activity similar to estrogen and because it occurs commonly in the environment as a component of hard plastic containers, such as cups and baby bottles, and the linings of metal food and drink cans.

This study was published online December 30 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.