The intake of bisphenol A, a substance found in plastic containers and films used in food and other home products, could affect hormonal functions and increase the risk of developing diabetes and cancer. A study conducted at the Faculty of Chemistry (CF) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) seeks to ensure that the plastics used in food packaging or preservation do not contain that substance.

Additionally, the research objective is avoid that waste containing bisphenol A end up in waterbodies, said Humberto Gómez Ruiz, head of the Laboratory of Analytical Environmental Chemistry, of the Department of Analytical Chemistry, where research is carried out.

The bisphenol A is a disruptor of the endocrine system, altering the hormonal system; however, it is widely used in the inner lining of food packaging. There is a correlation between the consumption of this compound and conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer, reports the university study, one of the first conducted in the world with a relatively high population (500 women).

It affects the endocrine system, that means metabolic changes such as anticipate the onset of menstruation in girls and the possibility of generating diabetes and cancer in the pancreas and liver; however, due to the lack of more data with exposed populations, conclusive data cannot be reached,” Gómez Ruiz said.

It is an industrial product used for the manufacture of polycarbonate glass and epoxy resins, so it is also emitted to the environment due to waste or mishandling in the industries that produce these plastics.

The research

We have been analyzing bisphenol A for more than five years, and many more studying all the pollutants that are potentially dangerous for humans,” Gómez Ruiz said.

To find the correlation between bisphenol A and toxicological damage, the study included a population of 500 women, with controls such as age, weight, health status and whether they had been mothers. In the urine of five percent of them bisphenol A was detected in high levels, suggesting that around 20 could develop cancer.

Globally there are studies, but with a very low number of samples; perhaps this is one of the first with a relatively high population of women, Gómez Ruiz said