Kids and teens with higher levels of the notorious plastics chemical bisphenol A (known simply as BPA) in their urine may also be more likely to be obese, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Food and Drug Administration raised questions about the risks of BPA in 2010, even though it was deemed "safe" in 2008, the New York Times reported. The chemical is already banned from kids' sippy cups and baby bottles.
"In experimental studies, BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt multiple metabolic mechanisms, suggesting that it may increase body mass in environmentally relevant doses and therefore contribute to obesity in humans," New York University School of Medicine researchers wrote in the study.
To test this theory, the researchers looked at the body mass indexes and urinary BPA levels of 2,838 kids and teens between the ages of 6 and 19 who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2003 and 2008.
Overall, 17.8 percent of the study participants were obese, while 34.1 percent were overweight. The researchers also divided up their urinary BPA levels into four levels, ranging from the lowest levels to the highest.
A little more than 10 percent of study participants in the level with the lowest urinary BPA levels had a BMI indicative of obesity, compared with more than 22 percent of those with the highest urinary BPA levels.
"We note the recent FDA ban of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, yet our findings raise questions about exposure to BPA in consumer products used by older children," the researchers wrote in the study. "Last year, the FDA declined to ban BPA in aluminum cans and other food packaging, announcing 'reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the human food supply' and noting that it will continue to consider evidence on the safety of the chemical. Carefully conducted longitudinal studies that assess the associations identified here will yield evidence many years in the future."
A study just last month appearing in the journal PLoS ONE linked higher urinary levels of BPA with a condition called coronary artery stenosis, or narrowed arteries. That research, conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge and University of Exeter, included 591 people.
That same Cambridge-Exeter team also showed in a Circulation study that high BPA may be linked with an increased risk of heart disease, Reuters reported.
What other chemicals are lurking in your household products? A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives identified which consumer products contain endocrine-disruptors -- click through the slideshow to find out more: