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Food Contaminants May Lead to Dangerous Metabolic Changes

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What happens when you eat low doses of food contaminants like dioxin, PCB, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates over the course of a lifetime, starting in utero via your mother's consumption?

This is what French researchers recently set out to determine, albeit via a study on mice instead of humans.

"Mice were challenged from preconception throughout life with a high-fat diet containing pollutants commonly present in food  added at low doses in the tolerable daily intake range," the study, published in the FASEB Journal reported.

Both male and female mice were affected by the contaminants, in quite different but equally disturbing ways. And considering that low doses of these same contaminants are pervasive in the food supply, it's not a stretch to think of yourself as just another lab rat...

Common Food Contaminants Lead to Potentially Dangerous Metabolic Changes

For the study, mice were fed a high-fat diet to which low doses of dioxin, PCB, BPA and phthalates were added (the mice were also born to mothers fed this diet). Compared to a control group of mice fed a contaminant-free high-fat diet, the contaminant group experienced significant metabolic changes. Specifically:

• In females, glucose intolerance worsened and their estrogen pathway was altered     

• In males, both cholesterol and lipid metabolism were altered

The researchers noted:

"In males, pollutants increased the expression of hepatic [liver-related] genes (from 36 to 88%) encoding proteins related to cholesterol biosynthesis and decreased (40%) hepatic total cholesterol levels.

In females, there was a marked deterioration of glucose tolerance, which may be related to the 2-fold induction of estrogen sulfotransferase and reduced expression of estrogen receptor α (25%) and estrogen target genes (34%).

Because of the very low doses of pollutants used in the mixture, these findings may have strong implications in terms of understanding the potential role of environmental contaminants in food in the development of metabolic diseases."

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Likely to Cause Harm Even at Low 'Safe' Doses

The chemical contaminants used in the study were chosen not only because they're pervasive in the food supply, but also because they're known endocrine disruptors. The glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of your body. It is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.             
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