BPA, Triclosan Linked to Allergies

April 2010's issue of the Allergy Consumer Report discussed the relationship between BPA and allergies in BPA, Allergies, and Asthma. As promised, we are on the lookout for new information on this topic. Science Daily recently reported on BPA's role in contributing to allergies in Antibacterial Soaps: Being Too Clean Can Make People Sick, Study Suggests. The study they discuss links both antibacterial soaps and BPA to allergies.

The University of Michigan School of Public Health conducted a study that suggests that ‘Young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may suffer more allergies, and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may negatively influence the immune system.’

Triclosan is found in a wide range of antibacterial products, and BPA is found in many plastics, including the protective coating inside food cans. Both triclosan and BPA are classified as endocrine-disruption compounds (EDCs), a type of environmental toxicant. They mimic hormones or affect them in other ways, and are thus detrimental to human health.

In the study, researchers compared urinary BPA and triclosan levels with cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnoses of allergies or hay fever in a sample of U.S. adults and children over age 6. Erin Rees Clayton, research investigator at the U-M School of Public Health and first author on the paper, reports, ‘We found that people over age 18 with higher levels of BPA exposure had higher CMV antibody levels, which suggests their cell-mediated immune system may not be functioning properly.’ People over age 18 with elevated triclosan levels were also more likely to report allergies or hay fever.

Compellingly, the research adds to a growing body of evidence that EDCs are harmful to our health at lower levels than previously thought. The research may also support the hygiene hypothesis, as Allison Aiello, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health and principal investigator on the study, describes: ‘The triclosan findings in the younger age groups may support the 'hygiene hypothesis,' which maintains living in very clean and hygienic environments may impact our exposure to micro-organisms that are beneficial for development of the immune system.’

Aiello goes on to state, ‘It is possible that a person can be too clean for their own good.’ Triclosan, indeed, may change the household microorganisms we're exposed to in such a way that children's immune system development is affected.

BPA exposure affected the immune system differently, depending on the individual's age: In people over 18, BPA exposure was associated with higher CMV levels, but in younger people, the reverse was true. Rees Clayton explains, ‘This suggests the timing of the exposure to BPA and perhaps the quantity and length of time we are exposed to BPA may be affecting the immune system response.’

Though a link between BPA, triclosan, and allergies is certainly demonstrated by the study, we're still not sure about the exact nature of the association. For instance, as Aiello says, ‘It is possible

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