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Chemicals Found in Many Plastics May Alter Thyroid Function: Study

Certain additives used in many plastic products, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), can lower thyroid levels, according to the findings of a new study. 

Both BPA and another type of plasticizer, known as phthalates, are commonly used in food packaging and processing. According to the findings of a study published earlier this month in Environmental Health Perspectives, the chemicals may be linked to lower thyroid levels, which could cause a number of disruptions to the human endocrine system and developmental problems.

Researchers studied nearly 1,700 adults and teenagers and determined that diet was a major source of BPA and phthalates. Researchers found that the higher the rate of BPA and phthalates in the urine, the lower the thyroid levels were apt to be. At high levels of exposure, the chemicals could drop the thyroid hormones released in the body by 10%.

The biggest problem with the reduced hormone levels come from child development. Both unborn children that are still in the womb and young children could have developmental problems due to low thyroid levels.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is used to make many plastic products hard and shatterproof. Originally developed as a form of synthetic estrogen, it is used in the manufacture of many consumer products, such as bottles, cups, can liners, baby products and other food containers.

Exposure to BPA has long been suspected of causing hormonal changes by impacting the human endocrine system. It has also been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Some prior research has also suggested that BPA side effects can cause developmental abnormalities and other problems over time in infants and young children.

Last year, the FDA recommended that parents take “reasonable steps” to reduce infant exposure to BPA. The federal regulatory agency is currently conducting a re-evaluation of the safety of BPA, after previously indicating that exposure to the levels used in consumer products is safe. The new review was initiated in June 2009 after the FDA received substantial criticism from outside groups, politicians and its own scientists.

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