Look around and you’ll probably notice hard plastic somewhere near you, but there’s an invisible enemy hidden within those everyday objects in the form of BPA (Bisphenol A).
BPA is one of the building blocks of clear hard plastics, dental sealants, and epoxy resins lining food cans, but it also does a pretty good job of mimicking the hormone, estrogen, and that’s a problem because BPA, even in trace amounts, can trigger heart muscle cells to beat out of rhythm, according to Science News. The unsynchronized beating can cause arrhythmia, which could possibly trigger sudden cardiac death, says Hong-Sheng Wang of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Research conducted in 2009 revealed that BPA and estrogen could alter contraction rates in heart cells, but it was believed to only affect female animals. More recent studies have indicated that estrogen affects calcium, which plays an important part in heart-cell contractions. Specifically, estrogen and BPA can cause a leakiness of calcium within female heart cells. Also, it’s been discovered that this reaction affects both beta and alpha sensors, possibly explaining a woman’s vulnerability to arrhythmia.
The experiments are now being repeated with heart tissue from dogs and future studies on human cells are expected soon.