High levels of BPA in the body double a person's risk of heart disease or diabetes. BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical commonly used in plastic food containers.
In 2008 the team from the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Exeter, UK believed that higher urinary BPA concentrations might be associated with adverse health effects in adults, especially in relation to liver function, insulin, diabetes and obesity.
By using data from the US government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2004-2004, which for the first time measured urinary BPA concentrations, the research team found that a quarter of the population with the highest levels of BPA were more than twice as likely to report having heart disease or diabetes, compared to the quarter with the lowest BPA levels.
They also found that higher BPA levels were associated with clinically abnormal liver enzyme concentrations.
"This is only the second analysis of BPA in a large human population sample. It has allowed us to largely confirm our original analysis and exclude the possibility that our original findings were a statistical 'blip'," said Professor David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Peninsula Medical School (Exeter, UK), who led the team.
"We now need to investigate what causes these health risk associations in more detail and to clarify whether they are caused by BPA itself or by some other factor linked to BPA exposure," said Professor Tamara Galloway, Professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter and senior author of the paper.
He added, "The risks associated with exposure to BPA may be small, but they are relevant to very large numbers of people. This information is important since it provides a great opportunity for intervention to reduce the risks."
The study results are published by the online journal, PLoS ONE.