Bisphenol A (BPA), the monomeric component of polycarbonate plastics, reportedly possesses endocrine-disrupting effects. Exposure to low levels of BPA during more vulnerable periods leads to abnormalities related to sexual development in experimental animals. Moreover, recently a few epidemiological studies in Caucasians have demonstrated the association of BPA exposure with type 2 diabetes. Therefore, in the present study we examined the association of BPA exposure and abnormal glucose tolerance in Thais. This is a cross-sectional study of 240 participants aged at least 50 years, randomly selected by computer-generated random numbers within each glucose tolerance status from an oral glucose tolerance study of 661 participants. There were 80 participants in each group of type 2 diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and normal glucose tolerance (NGT). Serum BPA was measured by competitive ELISA. The detection rate of BPA was significantly higher in participants with IGT compared to those with NGT ( p < 0.05), while no difference was found between participants with type 2 diabetes and NGT. When participants with type 2 diabetes were stratified into those with fasting plasma glucose (FPG) under the diabetic threshold (<126 mg/dL) and those over (≥126 mg/dL), it was found that those with FPG under the diabetic threshold had measurable rates of BPA comparable to those with IGT, and rates significantly higher than the NGT group ( p < 0.05), while those with FPG over the diabetic threshold did not have higher rates of measurable BPA compared with the NGT group. In conclusion, BPA exposure is not uncommon in Thais. There is an association between BPA exposure and IGT, but not type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: bisphenol A; impaired glucose tolerance; insulin resistance; insulin sensitivity; type 2 diabetes.