Scientists are arguing that synthesized substances that are found in things like pesticides and water bottles are actually scrambling hormone signals. These disturbances are being blamed for tricking fat cells into taking in more fat. Another proposed result of hormone disruption is that the pancreas is being mislead into secreting excess insulin, causing interference in the regulation of carbohydrate and fat breakdown. The main culprit being blamed is bisphenol A, known as BPA. This chemical is found in plastics and food-can linings.
The so-called endocrine disruptor has been the center of a recent Spanish study. “When you eat something with BPA, it’s like telling your organs that you are eating more than you are really eating,” says Angel Nadal, a BPA expert at the Miguel Hernandez University in Spain.
Nadal’s research also finds that BPA triggers the release of almost double the insulin needed to break down food. High insulin levels can desensitize the body to the hormone, which in some people may lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes. These are arguable findings. The fact that a chemical, not our super-size fast food and sedentary lifestyles, is to blame for the insurmountable numbers of obesity and diabetes cases seems ridiculous, but is there truly merit?
Our lifestyles have changed negatively in the last few decades in parallel to our increased BPA exposure, making it hard to tell which is more impactful. However, studies show that the same fattening trend has appeared among newborns, lab rodents, pets, and wildlife that live in close proximity to humans, and therefore BPA. While humans have changed their ways, scientists doubt lab mice or wildlife have changed their diet or exercise much. These factors are used to blame more than calories on the rising obesity and type 2 diabetes problem.
Sarah Khan is our resident pharmacist and is currently getting certified to be a diabetes educator. She weighed in on this debate.
“Chemicals could be a factor in the development of diabetes but I don’t believe it’s the sole reason someone becomes a diabetic. The link between BPA/chemicals and diabetes to me shows how our eating habits have changed over the years. We are living in a fast paced society and need meals that are on-the-go. Because of our lifestyle and possibly a lack of income, many are buying more processed foods as a way to save time and money.”
Khan believes the impact of BPA isn’t our biggest threat. Rather, our poor food choices are the culprit and they just happen to be the foods with high levels of BPA as well. Khan implies that all the issues could be rectified by better, more conscience choices.
“It’s time to slow things down and start eating fresh foods. Organic is expensive but eating fresh fruits and vegetables I’m sure would be more beneficial to your health than frozen dinners. We need to change our culture and our outlook on food. Cooking at home, eating out less and minimizing processed foods are just a few changes you can make to lessen your risk of diabetes. This study helps solidify the fact that if we as a society don’t change our eating habits, diabetes will be become a more of a reality.”
February 20th, 2012