There's good news for pregnant women, and it's found in the soy bean. A study just published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism details how regular soy consumption may protect against the harmful effects of BPA.
BPA (bisphenol A) is the industrial chemical used to make many plastic food containers, most notably water bottles. It has been around since the 1960s, and it is estimated that 90 percent of us have at least some trace of it in our bodies. In 2010, however, the FDA released findings, based predominantly on animal studies, warning against potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children. The list of effects included disrupted hormone levels, cancer, and heart problems.
Although no health risks were definitively assessed, some states took action nonetheless. Wisconsin, Washington, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut and Minnesota have enacted laws restricting or banning the sales of certain products containing BPA. Over a hundred studies have linked BPA to health problems, with special concern regarding women's reproductive health issues and the manner in which BPA can mimic estrogen.
But now researchers from Georgia and Massachusetts studying BPA exposure and in vitro fertilization (IVF) have made some hopeful connections.
The study examined 239 women aged 18-45 who had already undergone at least one cycle of IVF at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2007 and 2012. The researchers measured the BPA levels of the subjects via urine samples, and assessed via questionnaires how often they ate soy-based foods.
The 63 women who did not eat soy showed a higher level of BPA in their urine and had a lower rate of embryo implantation. They also had fewer pregnancies that resulted in live births compared to the 176 women who had indicated the presence of soy-based foods in their diets.
It is worth noting that researchers could find no direct correlation between the levels of BPA and any effect on the outcome of the IVF cycles of the women who consumed soy.
It is almost impossible to live your life without being exposed to BPA in one or another of its many forms, and the research team acknowledges this. But their findings also suggest that nutrition could combat the deleterious effects of the pervasive plastic – or perhaps even other toxic chemicals.
Pregnant women are recommended to check with their physician regarding their diet and the consumption of soy products.