An ingredient in plastics and food-can linings coaxes cells from the pancreas to inappropriately secrete the hormone insulin, a finding that bolsters earlier links between type 2 diabetes and low-dose exposure to the chemical.
Bisphenol-A, or BPA, can mimic the effects of estrogen, a hormone that is involved in regulating insulin production in the body. Although controversy persists over BPA’s potency as an estrogen mimic, the new study, published online February 8 in PLoS ONE, finds that the pollutant is every bit as potent as the body’s natural estrogen in terms of triggering insulin release.
“I don’t think that anyone can say now that low-dose effects don’t occur,” says endocrinologist Ana Soto of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who was not involved in the new work. “It shows that changes happen in human cells — and at concentrations comparable to current levels of human exposure.”
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