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Can BPA make you gain weight? It might change your activitystat.

Activitystat is a setpoint for a person’s general activity level.

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Womens kettlebell workout shirt in soft heather grey crossfit womens shirt

Have you ever wondered why some people are very active while others prefer to conserve their energy?  People tend to keep preferred levels of activity, almost as part of their personalities.  Those who are highly active may prefer lots of sports or just lots of fidgeting.  They get antsy when confined. Others relax whenever possible.  The ActivityStat is a term for a person’s general level of activity.  “The ActivityStat hypothesis” suggests that when physical activity is increased or decreased in one domain, there will be a compensatory change in another domain, in order to maintain an overall stable level of physical activity or energy expenditure over time.”  The ActivityStat leads people to maintain a certain level of activity.  A person whose ActivityStat is high would probably fidget more or get up 20 times to get coffee when confined.   Person whose ActivityStat is low might reduce activity for the rest of the day after a workout or play session.  What determines a person’s activitystat is unknown.  It might be genetic.  But it may also be influenced by the environment.

The obesity epidemic is disturbing and fascinating as well.  And while many have been quick to blame parents, the internet, schools and “moral failings,” there is growing evidence that unseen and poorly understood factors are involved, at least in part.  These factors include current or early exposure to chemicals that have entered the environment or otherwise found their way to our food and water supplies.  BPA, found in some plastics, has been a hot-button chemical.  It was one of the first identified as an “endocrine disruptor” (a chemical that interacts with hormones or their receptors).  While there has been a ton of research on BPA, new things keep turning up:  male rats exposed to BPA very early in life, don’t move around as much as unexposed rats.

Can BPA make you gain weight?  BPA also increases fat cells.

While BPA may decrease your activity stat, it also increases fat cells.  At least in vitro (this is cells in a dish, rather than in a living animal).  When a person is exposed to BPA, the body gets rid of it pretty quickly.  It converts it to something called BPA-G.  Until recently it was thought the BPA-G was harmless and could be urinated away.  BPA-G added to a cell culture of potential fat cells caused the not-yet-fat cells to turn into fat cells.  It also caused them to start making more fat.  There may be no need to fear the occasional drink from a plastic water bottle.  But people should probably stay away when possible.  Especially pregnant women.  Even if it says BPA-free on the label.  We are just learning about BPA-free plastics, and it looks like they are much like BPA.  A last word . . . these studies were of cells (or rats) eposed to BPA or BPA-G early on.  The same effect may not be seen in adults.  Or even humans for that matter.  My apologies if this is too technical or not technical enough.  For you geeks, links to the original articles are below.

Andrea B. Kirk

The author on a great hair day.

NOTE:  This is a disclaimer.  I am not a medical doctor, I am a scientist. If you have questions about your health, talk to your medical doctor

Boucher JG, Boudreau A, Ahmed S, Atlas E. In Vitro Effects of Bisphenol A β-D-Glucuronide (BPA-G) on Adipogenesis in Human and Murine Preadipocytes.Environmental Health Perspectives. 2015;123(12):1287-1293. doi:10.1289/ehp.1409143.

Volberg V, Harley K, Calafat AM, et al. Maternal bisphenol A exposure during pregnancy and its association with adipokines in Mexican-American children.Environmental and molecular mutagenesis. 2013;54(8):621-628. doi:10.1002/em.21803.

New evidence that BPA alters male behavior: another reason to avoid plastic water bottles

We’ve known for quite some time that BPA (bisphenol A) is an endocrine disruptor.  We’ve known since at least 2002 that BPA may change behavior in female rodents making them less attentive mothers.  Exposed mothers spend less time with their offspring, and may be less likely to retrieve them back to the nest if they stray.  Or are displaced by a researcher. That is one of the ways by which researchers test rodent parenting skills.  In many rodent species, only the female is involved in parental care.  But others are more like us, where both partners are involved in caring for offspring.  A new study (2015) shows that male behavior may also be altered by BPA.  Investigators used a species of mouse where both parents are involved in infant care. The newer study with males is important because because only female behavior had been studied before.

How can a chemical like BPA change behavior?

Chemicals that happen to resemble the normal molecules that control development can change the way the brain develops.  BPA resembles estrogen.  It resembles estrogen enough that it can interact with estrogen receptors or block them.  There are different kinds of estrogen receptors.  BPA can either block them or activate them depending on what kind of receptor it hits.  This is particularly important during fetal development because any abnormalities that develop are likely to persist. An adult with the occasional too much estrogen here or there will probably be fine.  I explained this to my ex once, but he continued to recoil from BPA in sales receipts like a teenage girl offered a spider.  An adult human male is at much less risk than an infant, but, to be fair, no one has tested them yet.  Teenagers, it should be noted, may be more vulnerable to estrogen-like chemicals (such as BPA) than adults (see Blaustein et al. 2015) because their brains are undergoing so many changes.

Estrogen is important in brain development and influences later typical male and female behavior.   BPA-exposed males were  less likely to mark their territories when another male was around.  Researchers suggest this is important because they may be less likely to engage in other male-mouse behaviors like protecting their mates from other males that could reduce their reproductive success.  While BPA does seem to influence how males dosed with BPA during development behave as adults, the effects are stronger in females. BPA appeared to influence how males were “viewed” by females.  Females seemed to be less invested in the care of infants produced by BPA-dosed males.  Why is unknown.  Did BPA make the fathers dorkier?  Was their less masculine behavior enough to make the mother mice value their own offspring less?  Did males exposed to BPA produce offspring less able to evoke nurturing behavior in their mothers?   There have been a few headlines “BPA turns Parents into Deadbeats” etc.  That is a bit of a jump, but interesting to think about in terms of what studies might be designed to evaluate humans: “BPA-exposed men express less interest in football” or “BPA-exposed men are more likely to share the remote during couple-based TV activities.”

What makes a woman a good mother anyway?  What makes her value her mate?  Surely a lot of social factors are involved, but there are complex hormonal and neurological factors that are likely important as well.  The two are probably intertwined.  Too much to discuss here.  What is important is that there is so much we do not understand about ourselves and and so much we don’t understand about what determines who we become.  Why add BPA to the mix?

Conclusion for BPA

Early exposure to BPA may alter behavior in adulthood.  We don’t know enough about BPA or about development to know if the levels at which people are exposed are completely without impact.  Until we know more, be conservative, especially if you are pregnant or might become pregnant.  Use a glass bottle or a non-plastic cup.  Plastic is bad for the environment anyway.

Blaustein JD, Ismail N, & Holder MK (2015). Review: Puberty as a time of remodeling the adult response to ovarian hormones. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology PMID: 26004504

Palanza PL, Howdeshell KL, Parmigiani S, & vom Saal FS (2002). Exposure to a low dose of bisphenol A during fetal life or in adulthood alters maternal behavior in mice. Environmental health perspectives, 110 Suppl 3, 415-22 PMID: 12060838

Williams SA, Jasarevic E, Vandas GM, Warzak DA, Geary DC, Ellersieck MR, Roberts RM, & Rosenfeld CS (2013). Effects of developmental bisphenol A exposure on reproductive-related behaviors in California mice (Peromyscus californicus): a monogamous animal model. PloS one, 8 (2) PMID: 23405200

Rosenfeld CS (2015). Bisphenol A and phthalate endocrine disruption of parental and social behaviors. Frontiers in neuroscience, 9 PMID: 25784850

Can drinking out of plastic bottles cause migraines?

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Migraine headaches.  That word should not be typed, let alone published.  Even seeing the word “migraine” in print can bring waves of nausea to some headache sufferers.  A migraine is not like other headaches.  Some can be worse than others.  Generally having a migraine feels like the pressure one might experience while vomiting through a crushing head injury.  Its awful.  And trying to support and comfort someone through one is awful too.

Estrogen and Migraine Triggers

Its difficult to say what trigger migraines.  For some people it seems to be one type of food or another.   Repetitive changes in light and shadow are what seem to get me.   For many women, migraines seem to be worse during times of the month when estrogen levels shift.  Other common triggers are thought to be:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • red wine
  • chocolate
  • nuts

We’ll focus on estrogen today but I wanted to tell people about a new bit of research on estrogen-mimics and migraine headaches.

Estrogen-mimics

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Our lady of the Kettlebells with a touch of pink. Our Lady Hoists.

Estrogen-mimics are sometimes called XenoEstrogens.  Bascially they are molecules that resemble estrogen.  Molecules have shapes, just like most things.  The shape of natural estrogen fits nicely into estrogen receptors.  Once the two come together (estrogen and receptor) a series of events may proceed.  What happens after the union depends on the type of receptor and the type of cell the receptor sits on.

There are many chemicals that are shaped like estrogen.  These chemicals can unlock estrogen receptors and start chains of biochemical reactions just like natural estrogen.  Well, there are some differences.  Some don’t fit as well as real estrogen.  Some only fit some of the estrogen receptors and not others.   That means that many are not as powerful as real estrogen either.   That is probably a very good thing.  Estrogen mimics are everywhere.  Men and children, as well as women are exposed.   Still, a little hormone goes a long way.  Less powerful estrogens can still have an impact.

Plastics, Estrogen-mimics and Migraines

Many of the molecules that make up plastics have estrogen-like behaviors.  They can interact with estrogen receptors and make things happen.  There is growing evidence that estrogen mimics in the environment, food packaging and medical devices are having an impact on human health and function.  BPA is an example of an estrogen-mimic from plastics.  There are others, but BPA has gotten the bulk of attention.  There’s been a lot of research on BPA.  Here is a bit more from Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center:

BPA makes Migraines worse

In rats.  Rats are used for these kinds of studies because it would be unconscionable to do them with people.  Migraine sufferers probably know it is unconscionable to induce migraines in any living thing.  Animals used in this study were induced with what researchers call “inflammatory soup.”  They were not given a BPA Migraine.  Control animals and BPA-dosed animals both got what appeared to be nasty nasty headaches.  Rats dosed with BPA showed more migraine-like behaviors than undosed rats.  The BPA migraine appeared to be worse.

What this means is that BPA interacts with estrogen receptors (probably in the brain) and increases the intensity of migraine.   The amount of BPA the rats were given was based on levels of BPA commonly found in people.   This is a very interesting study.  And it is “just out” and not widely available.  Leave a comment if you’d like to learn more about the study.

Takeaway:

wodmasters crossfit shirtsIf you are migraine-prone and want to do everything you can to avoid them stay away from Xeno-estrogens like BPA.  That means

  • use fresh or frozen instead of canned when possible
  • Drink out of metal or glass instead of plastic bottles
  • Be aware of plastics in food packaging

Take care of yourself.  Migraines suck.

A moment of silence, please, for all the animals who participated in this research.

 

Here is the reference:

Vermeer LM, Gregory E, Winter MK, McCarson KE, Berman NE.  2013.  Exposure to Bisphenol A exacerbates migraine-like behaviors in a multibehavior model of rat migraine.  Toxicological Sciences.  E-published ahead of print. November 4, 2013.http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/10/31/toxsci.kft245.full.pdf+html

 

Christensen KL, Lorber M, Ye X, & Calafat AM (2013). Reconstruction of bisphenol A intake using a simple pharmacokinetic model. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology PMID: 24252884

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Bisphenol A gets under your tongue.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in production of some plastics.  Bisphenol A has been the subject of much research and controversy.  Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor.  Endocrine disruptors disrupt hormones.  Bisphenol A disrupts sex hormones.  Many other chemicals also disrupt sex hormones too.  Among them are chemicals that are used to make BPA-free products.  (In other words, if its not made with BPA it may still have the same effects as BPA.)  But BPA is widely used and just about everyone is exposed to it.  Exposure to BPA is associated with:

Bisphenol A.WODMasters Crossfit shirts model

Bisphenol A can get under your tongue. Trust me.

  • Early puberty
  • Undescended testicles
  • Masculinized behavior in females
  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • And other things.

Bisphenol A and Exposure

Bisphenol A must get into a person’s body before it can cause any changes in hormones.  If Bisphenol A is not leaching out of a product then the product cannot cause harm.  We can be exposed to chemicals by inhaling them (air pollution, cigarettes or workplace exposure).  We can also be exposed by eating or drinking.  Exposure through food and beverages seems to be the main route for Bisphenol A.   When we eat or drink something it enters the stomach and the small intestine and enters the blood stream.  The blood then feeds into the liver.  Many things are detoxified as they pass through the liver.  This is called the “First Pass” effect.  Occasionally things become more toxic after they pass through the liver.  No need to worry about that now.  Bisphenol A consumed through food and drink would go through the “First Pass.”  It should then be metabolized by the liver and made harmless.  Or less harmful.  It has been argued that human exposure to Bisphenol A is unimportant because people are protected by the “First Pass” effect.

What does it mean if Bisphenol A gets under your tongue?

New research shows that BPA is not only swallowed and given the “First Pass.”  It can also enter your body by being absorbed under the tongue.    Like nitroglycerin for heart patients.  If Bisphenol A is absorbed under the tongue it does not get the “First Pass.”  It by-passes the liver is not metabolized.  Instead it can travel throughout your body where it behaves like estrogen.  And also disrupts male sex hormones (androgens).

How can I avoid Bisphenol A?

Until the research settles around BPA it seems like a good idea to avoid it.  And to avoid other estrogen mimics and androgen disruptors too.  Use a glass bottle.  Your drink or water will taste better too.

How to make a Bisphenol A free water bottle?

Get a glass bottle.  Wrap it in duct tape.  Don’t seal the lid.  Wrapping the bottle in duct tape will minimize the risk that you will get glass shards on the floor if it breaks.  Still, you should be careful with it.

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Gayrard V, Lacroix MZ, Collet SH, Viguié C, Bousquet-Melou A, Toutain PL, & Picard-Hagen N (2013). High Bioavailability of Bisphenol A from Sublingual Exposure. Environmental health perspectives PMID: 23761051

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Estrogen Activity Free or BPA Free Water Bottles?

What is the difference between BPA-free and Estrogen Activity Free?

Estrogen is a hormone.  Hormones are chemical signals produced by living things.  Hormones tell far-flung body parts what needs to be done.  In females, estrogen is important in breast development, reproduction and in maintenance of healthy tissue.  Too much can increase risk of breast cancer.  Too much estrogen during fetal development can harm a developing baby.  Estrogenic compounds are also used in birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and to treat prostate cancer in men.

There has been a lot of research on BPA.  BPA is a plastic additive that resembles estrogen.  The body thinks it is estrogen and reacts to it similarly. The battles over whether or not BPA is harmful continue.  Added to those are the marketing of BPA-free and estrogen-activity free plastic products.  BPA-free is not necessarily the same thing as estrogen-free.  Substituting something else for BPA that still activates estrogen receptors is not going to help anyone very much.

BPA-free or Estrogen Activity Free?

You can get BPA-free products pretty easily now.  But you should be looking for estrogen activity free products.

Phytoestrogens, BPA and Estrogenic Chemicals.

Unfortunately plastics are not the only source of estrogenic chemicals.  Estrogenic compounds are now frequently found in water supplies.  Possibly from pharmaceuticals in sewage.  Such pharmaceuticals include birth control pills.  Pharmaceutical estrogens have been found in waterways at concentrations that appear to alter the development of fish.

Phytoestrogens are estrogenic compounds found in plants.  A correlation between intake of plants high in phytoestrogens and behavioral changes in male monkeys was just published in the journal Hormones and Behavior.  That is interesting because most concerns with estrogenic compounds and behavior have focused on exposures that occurred to offspring while their mothers were pregnant.  Many of these studies found an increase in aggressive behavior in females.  Maybe the ban on drinking and driving should include a ban on drinking from plastic bottles.

Bottom line: if you are going to use plastic look for plastic that has been certified as Estrogen Activity Free.

Watergeeks makes certified Estrogen Activity Free products.  Target carries them.  If you are more upscale than that you can also get them at Neiman-Marcus. (No, we are not watergeek affiliated, we just like the Estrogen Activity free stuff.  And you can get bottles with a built in filter.  And you can get bottles that are just not plastic).