Bisphenol-A (BPA) is one chemical many Americans don’t want in their plastic bottles and food packaging. But the alternative, found in many “BPA-free” products, may not be much safer.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
What’s so bad about BPA?
Research shows that BPA from plastic containers can leach into food and beverages (and then into human bodies). That’s bad because the chemical has been linked to heart problems, as well as cancer, infertility and other health issues.
Many manufacturers have begun removing BPA from their products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration even outlawed it from baby bottles.
But a common substitute, bisphenol-S (BPS), infiltrates the human body just like BPA. And now a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has found a link between BPS and irregular heartbeat.
Rats! BPS linked to arrhythmia
According to a lead investigator, lab rats were exposed to low doses of BPS — amounts similar to those that humans encounter in water bottles and other consumer goods.
After exposure, heart rates increased in female rats. With added stress, so did their frequency of cardiac arrhythmia.
Interestingly, male rats did not have the same reactions.
While gender differences require a closer look, the overall message is clear, says David Van Wagoner, PhD, a Cleveland Clinic translational scientist and researcher.
“The logical conclusion is that, at least in rodents, the effects of exposure to BPS are similar to those of BPA,” he says. “Exposure might contribute to the onset of arrhythmias — although the impact of bisphenol exposure relative to other lifestyle and environmental factors is difficult to assess.”
“It doesn’t hurt to be cautious”
More study is needed to determine the biological effects of BPS (and other BPA alternatives) in humans. But “the science is pretty sound” and the journal and investigative team are quite reputable, notes Dr. Van Wagoner.
“It doesn’t hurt to be cautious,” he says. “As exposure can be reduced or eliminated by decreasing your use of plastic storage containers for food or drink, this is one way you might reduce your risk of arrhythmia.”