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For the record

Can shopping receipts make you impotent? The Telegraph, 30th June 2010

The article 1 outlined how researchers had linked bisphenol A [BPA] in the ink from till receipts to the suppression of male hormones in the body. The article referred to no specific paper but quoted an urologist Professor Frank Sommer: "A substance like that [BPA] could shift the balance of the sex hormones in men towards oestrogen," he said. "In the long term this leads to less sexual drive, encourages the belly instead of the muscles to grow and has a bad effect on erection and potency."

Professor Richard Sharpe explained to us that "at present there is no evidence that BPA causes impotence, and although one study has shown an association between BPA exposure and subtle changes in self-assessed sexual performance in Chinese men, this did not show cause and effect and did not show impotence. Animal studies have not shown impotence."

In a joint letter to The Telegraph we highlighted our concerns about the article:

"SIR - We were surprised to read in your paper that shopping could make men impotent because some till receipts contain Bisphenol A (BPA) (article, page 3, June 30). At present there is no evidence that BPA causes impotence.

It is implied that there is enough BPA in some till receipts to suppress testosterone levels in men (or to raise oestrogen levels). We are unaware of any data that shows any such effects in humans or in animals. At the (low) levels of exposure of BPA in the general population, the overwhelming scientific evidence says there will be no adverse health effects, and certainly not on hormone levels.

It is misleading to suggest that the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) supports the removal of BPA. The FDA has simply called for further studies to enable clarification of present uncertainties, which is the logical step forward. The European equivalent of the FDA considers that current exposure to BPA is safe.

Professor Richard M Sharpe
Society for Endocrinology Endocrine Disruptors Special Interest Group
Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh

Ellen Raphael
Director UK
Sense About Science"

1Sex and shopping - how retail therapy really is bad for men's health and fertility, The Telegraph, 30th June 2010

Author: Sense About Science

Document type: For The Record

Published: 13 July 2010

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