BPA's fluorinated "twin" may be more of a health threat than BPA

BPA's fluorinated "twin" may be more of a health threat than BPA

Prior posts have noted in detail the debate over the potential adverse health effects of BPA (e.g., estrogen mimic), with the vast majority of research studies indicating that the Bush Administration FDA was incorrect in down-playing the potential adverse health effects of BPA.   BPA appears to alter the effects of hormones like estrogen.

A related compound, Bisphenol AF (BPAF), may be an even more potent estrogen mimic.  In BPAF the two hydrogens in the methyl groups of BPA are replaced with fluorine atoms.   For a comparison of the two molecules, see the diagram at http://www.sciencenews.org/view/download/id/59112/name/Nonidentical_twins.

Like BPA, BPAF's presence in the hard plastic in which it is found is from being a contaminant vis-a-vis the manufacturing process.  BPAF can be found in many plastics, electronic devices, and optical fibers.  Researchers in Japan have found that both chemicals act on estrogen receptors in cells; activation of the receptors initiates the genes that control activities in women, such as ovulation.  However, the actual receptors impacted differ.  BPA's effect comes from activating human estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERR-gamma).  In contrast, BPAF mostly ignores ERR-gamma but has a strong affinity for estrogen receptors alpha and beta.  BPAF is a potent activator of ER-alpha.  Although BPAF does not activate ER-beta, it blocks the body's own estrogen from accessing the receptor and conducting normal cellular operations.

While activation of ER-alpha can promote some cancers, ER-beta activity tends to inhibit cancer.  Thus, BPAF has a double-edged effect, promoting cancer by activating ER-alpha and blocking one mechanism that inhibits cancer by blocking the receptor ER-beta.

The study can be found at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.0901819.  Earlier work by the same researchers on BPA and 19 related compounds can be found at http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/84/2/249.