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After numerous reports on the potential harmful effects of the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA, one more issue rears its ugly head: potential problems with sexual function in men. In a new report from Kaiser Permanente and published in the journal Human Reproduction, researchers spent five years studying workers in factories in China with relatively high levels of exposure to BPA. Numerous effects on sexual function were reported.
Earlier research has linked BPA exposure to reproduction problems in animals, but the new study is the first to do so in humans, reports webmd.com. Critics who were quicker to reject reports based on animal subjects may have a more difficult time dismissing this one. Additionally, there is the subject matter. Based on self-reporting techniques, the study found the BPA exposed workers had nearly a fourfold increased risk of reduced sexual desire, an even greater risk of erectile dysfunction and a more than sevenfold risk of ejaculation difficulty than non-exposed men.
American Chemical Council spokesman Steve Hentges, PhD, tells WebMD.com he still has doubts. He finds the study sample small, "with just 230 occupationally exposed and 404 unexposed workers," and is concerned by the "self-reported observations of sexual dysfunction." However, doubts about the self reporting should be considered carefully since workers might well be likely to under-report, rather than over-report, such problems.
Consumers should be aware of these new findings, as BPA is found not only in plastic goods such as bottles, but in the lining of cans used for food products. However, it should be noted that the men in the study were exposed to about 50 times higher levels of BPA than the average American male.
SanFranciscoGate.com also reports that while the FDA found in 2008 that trace amounts of BPA are not harmful, some manufacturers have stopped using it and several regional and state governments have banned it in baby products such as bottles and sippy cups.
Researches who published the report for Kaiser Permanente would like to do further research investigating the effects of lower levels of exposure, like those to consumers of products containing BPA.