BPA (and plastics) is something every man should pay attention to…even if his testosterone is normal.
More than 90% of the population in Western countries has detectable levels of BPA levels in their urine. And it causes a whole host of issues, not just mess with your hormones.
Although BPA can contribute to many conditions, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, fatty liver, etc., we’re mainly going to focus on BPA on testosterone and sexual function in this article.
What is BPA
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics.
Structurally, BPA is very similar to other steroids including pregnenolone, progesterone and androstenedione (R). Apart from that, it’s an androgen antagonist.
It’s also called a xenoestrogen since it mimics the action of the natural hormone estradiol.
BPA also causes oxidative stress and inhibits energy production, which leads to a host of issues.
Where is BPA found
BPA is found almost everywhere, including:
- Food packaging (plastic wrap, Tupperware, doggy bags, etc.)
- Dental sealants (R) – in saliva immediately after the application of certain dental sealants are 90–913 μg/saliva/1h)
- Water bottles and beverages (7–58 μg/g) (R)
- At room temperature, leaching of BPA from polycarbonate bottles into drinking water occurred at an observed rate of 0.20 to 0.79 ng/h. At boiling temperature, the leaching of BPA from the same polycarbonate bottles into water increases 55-fold.
- Baby plastic bottles (13μg/kg/BW/day of BPA can be ingested from polycarbonate bottles)
- Food cans
- Canned food (veggies, pasta, soup, etc.) is the worse contributor, much more than plastic bottles (R). There is a 1221% increase in BPA with canned soup vs fresh soup (R).
- Home appliances (plastic utensils, plastic rice cooker, sous vide, etc.)
- Thermal papers (used in billing and tickets)
- Household dust
- PVC pipe approved for use in residential water supply lines in many cities
- Smoking (R).
Thick (not bendable), murky and cold plastic is the safest.
Thin and clear plastic is the worse.
All plastic becomes a problem when exposed to heat, which drastically speeds up leaching.
No detectable BPA contamination was observed in water stored in bottles made from Tritan™ copolyester plastic, uncoated stainless steel, or aluminum lined with EcoCare™ (R).
Topical is worse than oral
When BPA is consumed orally, the liver can detox most of it right away. However, topical BPA bypasses the liver completely, which can increase circulating and tissue levels of BPA to a much great extent.
Potential sources of topical BPA (and other toxins) include deodorant, lotions, shaving cream, shampoo, etc.
BPA on testosterone, estrogen and DHT
BPA, BPS and BPF (and other plastics) have anti-androgenic effects by:
- Inhibiting androgen receptors
- Upregulating aromatase
- Activating estrogen receptors (however its activity is approximately 10,000 to 100,000 times weaker compared to the natural hormone estradiol) (R)
- Inhibiting various steroidogenic enzymes (NR1D1, StAR, CYP11A1, 3β-HSD, and 17β-HSD (R, R).
- BPA inhibits steroidogenic enzymes by partly competing with cofactor NAD+ in the cofactor binding site of the enzymes.
- Decreasing the expression of the GnRH gene in cells of the preoptic area of the hypothalamus (R).
- Inhibiting 5AR and lower DHT (R)
- Inhibiting ATP and mitochondrial function. BPA increases mitochondrial oxidative stress and damage and alters the complex I activity of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and ATP synthesis (R). Cholesterol is converted to the pregnenolone in the mitochondria, thus reduced mitochondrial function will likely lower pregnenolone production.
- Damaging the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) (R). All the other steroidogenic enzymes are located in the ER, so BPA will also inhibit these steps.
BPA exposure in humans on testosterone
Results are conflicting.
Higher urinary BPA concentrations are correlated with:
- Higher serum testosterone, but not estradiol in 307 Italian men living in Chianti, Italy (R).
- A significant increase of LH, T, and E2 levels in Denmark (R).
- A reduction of androstenedione, free T and free androgen index (FAI) levels, and with the increase of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels (R).
- Higher FSH and lower inhibin B levels with a higher FSH/inhibin B ratio and a lower E2/T ratio (R).
- Lower FAI and FAI/LH and free T/LH ratios in fertile men (R).
- Higher SHBG in men occupationally exposed to BPA (R, R).
- Inverse correlation with serum T concentrations in male adolescents (R).
Since there isn’t any placebo controlled study (and there won’t be due to ethical reasons), but only association studies, it’s hard to draw any conclusions how “deadly” BPA is for testosterone production.
BPA on libido and erections
A study in 2010 found that elevation of BPA levels in urine has been found to be associated with decreased sexual desire, more difficulty having an erection, lower ejaculation strength, and lower level of overall satisfaction with sex life, which is possibly caused by lower testosterone level (R).
A 2009 study performed in China also showed that workers in BPA-manufacturing factories reported four times more likely to have erectile dysfunction and reduced sexual desire (Li et al., 2009).
Another study has found that BPA workers were also seven times more likely to have ejaculation difficulties.
A 2018 study found that, compared with the low concentration group (0.38-3.79 ng/ml), the risk of sexual dysfunction significantly increased in the groups with higher BPA levels (8.68-21.93 ng/ml). The highest BPA group experienced more sexual dysfunction, low libido, reduced erection ability, reduced ejaculation intensity and premature ejaculation (R).
Exposing rats long-term to doses nearly equivalent to that of BPA-exposed workers with ED caused structural changes to the penis (R).
The BPA exposure:
- Decreased serum testosterone and estradiol by 50% and 88%, respectively
- Caused venous leak, hence the inability to maintain an erection
- Increased the fat deposition and apoptotic index increased by 3.8 fold and 12%, respectively
- Increased the (smooth muscle) SMC/collagen ratio, and the calponin and ASMA contents were reduced by 48%, 60%, and 39%, respectively
In summary, BPA exposure tanked testosterone, and caused penile fibrosis and vascular leakage, resulting in ED.
How to detox BPA
Once adsorbed from the gut, BPA is then metabolized by the liver and is excreted with the urine in 24 hours (urinary elimination half-life of only 4–5 hours) (R). There is evidence that not all BPA is detoxed right away since 46% of the ingested BPA dose is still left by 17 hours.
Although there was a relatively rapid decline in BPA levels during the 4.5- to 8.5-hour fasting interval, the BPA slope was essentially flat between 8.5 and 24 hours, suggesting very slow or minimal elimination during that time. This is likely when accumulation occurs.
Free BPA levels were detected highest in adipose tissues (1.12 to 12.28 ng/g), followed by the liver (0.77 to 3.35 ng/g), and brain (up to 2.36 ng/g). Since BPA is fat-soluble and there is fat in the testicles, BPA can likely accumulate in the testes as well.
BPA is detoxed by the liver and is vit A dependent (R).
In the liver, BPA is biotransformed into BPA-glucuronide after conjugating with the uridine diphosphate glucuronic acid. BPA is also known to form other conjugates, such as BPA diglucuronide and BPA sulfate conjugates. The conjugate formation and excretion of bisphenol glucuronide are rapid and take place with a half-life of 5.3 hours.
Detoxification of xenobiotics, including BPA, results in the formation of electrophiles, free radicals, nucleophiles, and redox-active reactants that can destroy the DNA, RNA, and proteins (R). Therefore it’s important to minimize other toxins that can create reactive oxygen species and eat a diet rich in anti-oxidants to optimize liver health for proper detoxification.
BPA detox strategy
- Consume enough vitamin A-rich foods (liver, yolks, dairy fat, etc.)
- Consume anti-oxidant-rich foods (e.g. animal foods rich in carnosine, anserine, glutathione, ophidine, etc.) (R)
Here is a list of certain compounds that can help to protect you against the harms of BPA.
- Cucumeropsis mannii seed oil protects against bisphenol A-induced testicular mitochondria damage (R)
- Fenugreek (R)
- Grapeseed extract (R)
- Propolis (R)
- Nigella sativa (R)
- Green tea(R)
- Ginkgo Biloba (R)
- Korean red Ginseng (R)
- Aloe vera (R)
- Tribulus terrestris (R)
- Naringin (R)
- Taurine (R)
- Zinc (R)
- Cordyceps militaris (R)
- Cistanche tubulosa (R)
- Selenium (R)
- NAC (R)
- Melatonin (R)
- Glutamine (R)
I prefer to start with food instead of going straight to supplements.
Foods rich in taurine, glutamine, zinc, selenium and glutathione. These foods would include meat, organ meat, shell-fish, eggs and dairy. Create your dietary foundation of those foods. I like taurine as a supplement as it accumulates in the testes and can help to boost testosterone production.
Then you can add other supplements as well such as Tribulus, cordyceps, Cistanche, Fenugreek, etc.
If you want high T, high libido and great erections, minimize BPA exposure as best as possible.
Eat a diet rich in vitamin A to detox BPA.
Eat a nutrient and anti-oxidant-rich diet to prevent oxidative stress induced by BPA and BPA detoxification.
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