High caloric density along with a lack of activity are known to cause obesity. But additionally, we’re finding more and more that environmental toxins that we might not even realize we’re exposed to can also cause obesity. Bisphenol-A (BPA) found in the lining of cans, plastic containers, and even cash register receipts has been found in a number of studies to be an obesogen, a foreign chemical compound that disrupts the normal development of cells and can cause obesity. Now, new research is showing that a form of bisphenol-A used in flame retardants may also lead to obesity.
Researchers from the University of Houston have found that two chemicals: tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and tetrachlorobisphenol A (TCBPA), both forms of BPA, cause obesity in zebrafish. Maria Bondesson, a research assistant at the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS) found that zebrafish exposed to TBBPA and TCBPA, which are commonly used flame retardants, were much larger than zebrafish not exposed to the chemicals.
The chemicals are used in electrical chips in cell phones, televisions, computer tablets, and video game consoles to ensure that when the chips heat up, no fire results.
According to Medical News Today:
The team used sibling zebrafish for their study. One sibling in each pair was exposed to low concentrations of TBBPA and TCBPA for 11 days and fed egg yolks as their primary source of fat. The other siblings were fed the same diet but were not exposed to the flame retardants.
Because zebrafish are transparent, this allowed the researchers to visually identify any accumulation of lipids, or fat cells, during the study period.
After one month, researchers found that the fish exposed to the chemicals were larger. Researchers think that TBBPA and TCBPA may activate a hormone in the body to convert stem cells to fat cells.
"We could see the lipids accumulated in the liver, the heart region, the head and very obviously in the blood vessels. We also could see it subcutaneously along the side of the fish," said Bondesson to Medical News Today.
There was no difference in diet, the only difference was that one group was exposed to the chemicals and one was not. Fat cell conversion was likely due to the chemicals.
This is just another indication of all the risks from the places that endocrine disruptors may hide. It’s somewhat frightening to consider all the chemicals we’re exposed to on a given day in products like cell phones. While there are factors that we can control like diet, exercise, personal care products, household products, water filtration, and so on, it’s exceedingly difficult to control all of the toxins living around us. But it’s good to know that more research is being done to uncover all the places that they can be found.
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