In a Heartbeat: Food Chemical BPS Hinders Heart Function within Minutes of Exposure

Most U.S. adults are aware of the serious adverse health consequences of BPA (bisphenol-A), the endocrine-disrupting chemical (officially a food additive) used in the linings of food and drink containers.  Many are aware because of food safety advocates incessantly beating the drum and alerting legislators and the news media about this chemical of concern*. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), heavily influenced and controlled by regulatory capture from Big Food and Big Chemical, refused to do an outright ban of BPA, but with all the noise advocates made, the news inevitably reached U.S. consumers and eventually big food corporations realized that due to public outcry they were going to have to start using a substitute for BPA.

Enter BPS–an additive from the same chemical family as BPA–which food manufacturers began using in earnest year before last, sans any food safety testing, of course.  Just as soon as the news came out that BPS was starting to be used to line U.S. food and drink containers (food manufacturers are now using BPS as a replacement for BPA in their products and labeling them as “BPA-Free”), a group of scientists became alarmed–particularly those researchers who have expertise in testing the adverse effects of BPA, because they knew that BPS is from the same chemical family and shares some of the same critical chemical qualities as BPA, including its endocrine-disrupting properties.  And so, these scientists began critically examining the health effects of BPS

Study results overview

According to the results of a new scientific study researching potential health effects to the industrialized food additive BPS (BPA’s counterpart replacement for lining food and beverage containers in the U.S. food supply), BPS can hinder heart function within minutes of a single exposure.

The study entailed treating mouse hearts with BPA and BPS at levels typically seen in people. Each chemical on its own was found to depress heart function by dampening heart contractions causing slower blood flow. However, BPS had a quicker impactwithin five minutes of exposure. In short: when mice were given bisphenol BPA or BPS in amounts that mimicked typical human levels, their heart function worsened with BPS, especially in females, within minutes of exposure.

These findings are concerning, as endocrine receptors and metabolic pathways are similar in mice and humans.

The study is the first to show the instant effects bisphenol S (BPS) can have on the heart.

Scientists found the results of their experiments stunning

 

“We expected to find similar effects from BPS as we have with BPA, but not at the speed that it worked. This replacement chemical [BPS] seems to be more potent [than BPA].

Previous research has looked at the chronic effects that can happen when exposed to BPS over days.  But we are the first to show how fast BPS can work. This is an important finding because it means you don’t need to have a buildup of the chemical over time to experience its harmful effects.”

-Dr. Glen Pyle, researcher and biomedical sciences professor

Why the effects of the so-called “BPA-Free”/BPA-Replacement chemical “BPS” are so problematic:

 

“This study raises concerns about the safety of BPS as a replacement for BPA…

It’s particularly worrisome for people with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity, because the effects of BPS could increase the chance of a heart attack or make a heart attack more severe.  If the heart is in a precarious position, when you add a stressor you can make it worse.”

-Dr. Glen Pyle, researcher and biomedical sciences professor

So what are consumers to do?

The scientist spearheading this recent study argues the U.S should ban the substitute chemical BPS (as well as BPA) from such consumer products as food and beverage packaging, dental fillings, toys and thermal paper receipts. He also suggests consumers reduce plastic use, including single-use plastics.

Food chemicals-BPA CANNED FOOD-SKULL

But there is more consumers can do

Additionally, consumers must avoid consuming canned foods unless they are specifically marked “BPA-Free” and “BPS-Free”. The surest way to accomplish this is to avoid eating canned food, period. Instead, opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and replace pre-packaged/pre-prepared meals with fresh ingredients and your own home cooking. Ditto for plastic drink bottles–and do not drink anything from these containers if the plastic bottles have been setting in your car or out in the sun or other places in which they have heated up, as this can increase the rate at which both BPA and BPS can leach into the drink. Further, minimize touching register receipts (previous research has shown that BPA can transfer from the paper into your body within just a few seconds) and of course, have a serious conversation with your dentist about ‘BPA-Free’ and ‘BPS-Free’ alternatives to sealants, fillings and other dental applications.

 

*BPA–and now BPS– is found in plastics used for food packaging, including liners for metal cans and other containers, as well as in medical devices such as hospital intravenous lines and dental sealants. Although the body gets rid of bisphenols quickly, their ubiquitous use in so many consumer goods means that the substance persists in the body.

 


 

Journal Reference: Melissa Ferguson, Ilka Lorenzen-Schmidt, W. Glen Pyle.   Bisphenol S rapidly depresses heart function through estrogen receptor-β and decreases phospholamban phosphorylation in a sex-dependent manner. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-52350-y