Chemical in cans, toys and receipts may worsen heart health

A chemical found in receipts has been linked to reduced heart function. [Photo: Getty]

A chemical found in cans, toys and receipts may affect our heart health.

Bisphenol S (BPS) was brought in as a “safer” alternative to the controversial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) after the latter was linked to everything from obesity and autism to infertility and premature births.

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA from baby bottles, while The European Commission prohibits the chemical being added to receipts.

With BPS thought to be a safer alternative, scientists from the University of Guelph exposed mice hearts to either the “new” chemical or BPA at doses similar to those found in humans.

Both caused the animals’ heart function to decline, with BPS acting in half the time.

“We expected to find similar effects from BPS as we have with BPA, but not at the speed that it worked,” study author Professor Glen Pyle said.

“This replacement chemical seems to be more potent.”

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BPA reacts with oestrogen and thyroid-hormone receptors.

Health concerns are prompting many manufacturers to switch to BPS, labelling products “BPA free”. Yet studies suggest the latter has a similarly detrimental effect on the heart.

To learn more, the scientists “perfused” the hearts of live mice with BPA, BPS or a “placebo” for 15 minutes.

They found the rodents - particularly the females - saw their heart contractions slow, hindering blood flow.

Despite its safer reputation, BPS had an effect within just five minutes, while BPA took a “more modest” 10 minutes.

“Previous research has looked at the chronic effects that can happen when exposed to BPS over days,” Professor Pyle said.

“We are the first to show how fast BPS can work.

“This is an important finding because it means you don't need to have a buildup of the chemical over time to experience its harmful effects.”

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The human body reportedly removes BPA and BPS relatively quickly, however, its “ubiquitous” use means it is detectable in more than 90% of people.

The results - published in the journal Scientific Reports - are particularly concerning given the similarities between hormone receptors and pathways in mice and humans, the scientists said.

People with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity may be particularly at risk, they added.

“If the heart is in a precarious position, when you add a stressor you can make it worse,” Professor Pyle said.

The scientists are calling for BPS to be banned from consumer products. It is also used in hospital IV lines and dental sealants.

The team also recommend people reduce their plastic use to minimise exposure.