New study into diabetes risk from packaging compound

Fri, 10 Feb 2012
A new study from Spain has claimed that a compound present in many plastics and the linings of food tins is linked to an increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It was found that even small amounts of a pollutant compound called Bisphenol-A (BPA) can change insulin secretion levels.

BPA does this by coaxing cells from the pancreas to unnecessarily secrete insulin by copying the effects of the hormone oestrogen, which is involved in regulating insulin production. The study, which was published in the journal PLoS ONE, showed that BPA is as potentially potent as natural oestrogen for being responsible for insulin release, and acts to stimulate insulin release by a protein called oestrogen receptor beta (ER-beta).

When the scientists tested mice that were not able to produce ER-beta, the effect of boosting the release of insulin didn't occur, meaning that the protein is crucial to BPA's perturbation of insulin secretion. They therefore argued that exposure to BPA elevates the risk of developing insulin resistance in animals, important because type 2 diabetics are usually thought to have high levels of BPA in their urine.

Research leader Angel Nadal of Miguel Hern'ndez University in Elche, Spain, commented "If this happens in people with a genetic predisposition to diabetes, it will accelerate the induction of that disease."
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