A research team from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD), University of Exeter, and University of Cambridge has for the first time established a link between high levels of urinary Bisphenol-A (BPA) and severe coronary artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries).
The study is published in PLoS ONE today, 15th August 2012.
The team analysed data from 591 patients who participated in the Metabonomics and Genomics Coronary Artery Disease (MaGiCAD) study in Cambridgeshire, UK. They compared urinary BPA with grades of severity of coronary artery disease (CAD).
The patients were classified into severe, intermediate or normal CAD categories based on narrowing of their coronary arteries measured using a technique called angiography, which is considered the gold standard method of diagnosis. In all, 385 patients were identified to have severe CAD, 86 intermediate CAD and 120 had normal coronary arteries.
The study shows that urinary BPA concentration was significantly higher in those with severe CAD compared to those with normal coronary arteries.
The results are important because they suggest that associations between urinary BPA and CAD may be specific to narrowing of the arteries.
This is the fourth study led by PCMD, University of Exeter to identify a statistical link between increased levels of urinary BPA and cardiovascular disease.
Other studies related to BPA carried out by the same research team have found associations with altered testosterone and changes in the expression of BPA target genes in men, suggesting that BPA may be more active in the body than previously thought.
The research team was led by Professor David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at PCMD, University of Exeter. He said: "Our latest study strengthens a growing body of work that suggests that BPA may be adding to known risk factors for heart disease. Full proof will be very difficult to get, as experiments on this in humans are not feasible."
Professor Tamara Galloway, lead toxicologist on the study from University of Exeter, said: "These results are important because they give us a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between BPA and heart disease."
Dr. David Mosedale, Chairman of the MaGiCAD Management Committee, added: "This demonstrates the utility of intensively characterised cohorts like MaGiCAD, and highlights the need for further research into the long-term effects of common environmental chemicals such as BPA."
BPA is a controversial chemical commonly used in food and drink containers. It has previously caused concerns over health risks to babies, as it is present in some baby's bottles. Following a PCMD study in September 2008 many nations moved to ban BPA from the manufacture of baby's bottles and other feeding equipment.
BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic products such as refillable drinks containers, compact disks, some plastic eating utensils and many other products in everyday use. It is one of the world's highest production volume chemicals, with 5.16 million tonnes produced in 2008 (source: Chemical Weekly 2009).
The research team was supported by colleagues from the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health (University of Exeter) and Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Notes to Editors
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry is a joint entity of the University of Exeter, Plymouth University and the NHS in the South West of England. PCMD has created for itself an excellent national and international reputation for groundbreaking research in the areas of diabetes and obesity, neurological disease, child development and ageing, dentistry, clinical education and health technology assessment. www.pcmd.ac.uk
The Metabonomics and Genomics in Coronary Artery Disease study was initiated in 2001, and went on to collect blood, urine and DNA samples from more than 1,300 patients attending Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, UK, for a coronary angiogram (an X-ray of the arteries in the heart). The purpose of the study was to identify metabolic risk factors for heart disease that could be used to improve our ability to identify those at risk of a heart attack in the general population, and so improve the targeting of interventions such as treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs. The patients enrolled in the MaGiCAD study are some of the most intensively characterised human subjects in the world, with more than 10,000 measurements collected to date. For more details visit: www.magicad.org.uk
The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university and in the top one percent of institutions globally. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 18,000 students and is ranked 9th in The Sunday Times University Guide, 10th in the UK in The Times Good University Guide 2012 and 10th in the Guardian University Guide. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 90% of the University's research was rated as being at internationally recognised levels and 16 of its 31 subjects are ranked in the top 10, with 27 subjects ranked in the top 20. The University has invested strategically to deliver more than £250 million worth of new facilities for 2012, including a landmark new student services centre - the Forum - and world-class new facilities for Biosciences and the Business School. www.exeter.ac.uk.
Papworth Hospital treats over 23,500 inpatient and day cases and nearly 59,000 outpatients each year from across the UK. It is the largest heart and lung transplant centre, the national centre for pulmonary endarterectomy and a national centre for a range of other specialist services. Since carrying out the UK's first successful heart transplant in 1979, Papworth has established a reputation for leading edge research and innovation. Papworth Hospital carries out more major heart operations than any other hospital in the UK, currently more than 2,000 per year. With regular scrutiny by robust quality performance monitoring systems the survival rates and outcomes of these operations are among the best in the world. www.papworthhospital.nhs.uk