This research is in animals, but is sobering for humans.
This recent PLOS ONE study found “significant increases” in disease and abnormalities in the first and third generations of both male and female descendants of animals exposed to plastics. The first generation had increased kidney and prostate diseases. The third generation had pubertal abnormalities, testis disease, ovarian disease and obesity.
This isn’t the first study to demonstrate this.
The changes are epigenetic, meaning the expression of certain genes are turned on or off, then passed on.
It is likely that this science translates to humans, although this sort of study would takes many decades to prove.
Our exposure to plastics may affect generations to come. With plastics everywhere, avoidance is challenging. Pregnant women need to take the most care to minimize exposure.
Avoidance of the following will reduce exposure:
foods packaged in plastics or cans,
storage of food in plastic containers,
many cosmetics and personal care products.
Plastics Derived Endocrine Disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) Induce Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Obesity, Reproductive Disease and Sperm Epimutations
Mohan Manikkam, Rebecca Tracey, Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Michael K. Skinner
PLoS ONE 8(1): e55387. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055387
Environmental compounds are known to promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease in subsequent generations (F1–F3) following ancestral exposure during fetal gonadal sex determination. The current study was designed to determine if a mixture of plastic derived endocrine disruptor compounds bisphenol-A (BPA), bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) at two different doses promoted epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and associated DNA methylation epimutations in sperm. Gestating F0 generation females were exposed to either the “plastics” or “lower dose plastics” mixture during embryonic days 8 to 14 of gonadal sex determination and the incidence of adult onset disease was evaluated in F1 and F3 generation rats. There were significant increases in the incidence of total disease/abnormalities in F1 and F3 generation male and female animals from plastics lineages. Pubertal abnormalities, testis disease, obesity, and ovarian disease (primary ovarian insufficiency and polycystic ovaries) were increased in the F3 generation animals. Kidney and prostate disease were only observed in the direct fetally exposed F1 generation plastic lineage animals. Analysis of the plastics lineage F3 generation sperm epigenome previously identified 197 differential DNA methylation regions (DMR) in gene promoters, termed epimutations. A number of these transgenerational DMR form a unique direct connection gene network and have previously been shown to correlate with the pathologies identified. Observations demonstrate that a mixture of plastic derived compounds, BPA and phthalates, can promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. The sperm DMR provide potential epigenetic biomarkers for transgenerational disease and/or ancestral environmental exposures.