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31 October 2019

Media release

Exposure to chemicals in everyday products linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes 

A new study has found that exposure to chemicals commonly used in everyday products may be associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The study, led by researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in collaboration with French collaborators, shows positive associations between exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS) and the incidence of type 2 diabetes, independent of traditional diabetes risk factors.

The findings, published overnight in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, add to a growing body of evidence that indicates that these endocrine-disrupting chemicals might play a role in increasing risk of type 2 diabetes, and highlight the importance of assessing potential health hazards associated with BPA and its substitutes such as BPS.

BPA is a chemical commonly used in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins and is found in consumer products such as food and beverage containers, and thermal cash register receipts.

While the mechanism implicating BPA in the development of type 2 diabetes is not known, BPA is structurally similar to a natural estrogen and experimental studies have suggested BPA may play a role in disease development through insulin resistance, inflammation and dysregulation of glucose metabolism.

Study author and Head of Diabetes and Population Health at the Baker Institute, Professor Dianna Magliano says the study involved the examination of data of a French cohort (D.E.S.I.R. study) of 755 people without diabetes who were given urinary tests at two points several years apart.

While the association is not as strong as some other risk factors for diabetes such as obesity, Professor Magliano says there is mounting evidence to warrant caution. “There is growing concern about these environmental toxicants, certainly enough to question what products we use in our daily lives,” she says.

“I would advise people to use glass where they can or better quality plastic and if there is an alternative to BPA receipts such as electronic receipts, I think we should consider it.”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand say the evidence shows there are no health or safety issues based on the levels of BPA people are exposed to but other regulatory authorities are looking closely at this issue.

In 2010, the Australian Government announced a voluntary phase out of BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles.

Globally, growing concern over BPA and its use has prompted its replacement with alternative compounds such as BPS. However, this study is one of the first to look at BPS as a substitute for BPA and has also raised concerns about this chemical and its association with type 2 diabetes.

Professor Magliano says further research looking at more recent cohort studies, where the BPA exposure is expected to be higher, is needed to confirm these results.

For further information or to organise interviews please contact:

Tracey Ellis
03 8532 1514
M: 0433 781 972

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