Goji Berry Protects From BPA Damage In Vital Male Reproductive Organs

by Eleni Roumeliotou

BPA is an endocrine disrupter that mimics estrogen. In numerous animal studies, it is associated with hormone disruption, obesity, neurological damage and cancer. Despite the consistent evidence, it is still considered a safe chemical to be used in food cans, plastic beverage and water bottles and food packaging, which are the main sources for BPA exposure in humans.

A main concern regarding the endocrine disrupting properties of BPA is the harmful effects on male reproductive organs, especially when exposure occurs during the intrauterine life. A 2005 study published in the journal "PNAS" found that exposing male foetuses in BPA levels below the range of exposure by pregnant women (10 μg/kg), resulted in malformations of the male reproductive organs and disrupted the development of the prostate.  In a different study published in 2006 in the journal "Cancer Research" the same low grade exposure to BPA in rats was shown to increase prostate gland susceptibility to adult-onset precancerous lesions and hormonal carcinogenesis. In the absence of human studies, the real impact on human male foetuses, whose mothers are exposed to higher amounts of BPA, is impossible to assess.

Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) has been extensively used as a traditional remedy for male infertility in China. Previous research indicates that Goji berry protects testicular DNA from oxidative damages and restores the production of sexual hormones in damaged animal testes. Regarding BPA harm, an interesting study published in the journal "Evidence-based Complementary Alternative Medicine" in 2013 shows that Goji berry polysaccharides may reverse the dramatic atrophy of certain male reproductive organs caused by the specific endocrine disruptor, specifically the reduced weight of testis and epididymis. Feeding animals with the healing polysaccharides for 7 days upon BPA exposure recovered the testicular weight to near- normal levels, while fertility-related structures regained the required organisation to support their function. Epididymis weight responded less dramatically to the Goji berry treatment, although there was still a significant improvement. Also, Goji berry polysaccharides increased the concentration of antioxidant compounds, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase, and improved the blood hormone profile, which is very negatively affected by BPA. According to the authors:
LBP [Goji berry polysaccharides] can protect the testis and epididymis from BPA induced injuries.
  • Ho SM, Tang WY, Belmonte de Frausto J, Prins GS. 2006. Developmental exposure to estradiol and bisphenol A increases susceptibility to prostate carcinogenesis and epigenetically regulates phosphodiesterase type 4 variant 4. Cancer Res. 66(11):5624-32. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16740699
  • Prins GS, Tang WY, Belmonte J, Ho SM. 2008. Developmental exposure to bisphenol A increases prostate cancer susceptibility in adult rats: epigenetic mode of action is implicated. Fertil Steril. 89(2 Suppl):e41. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18308059
  • Timms et al. 2005. Estrogenic chemicals in plastic and oral contraceptives disrupt development of the fetal mouse prostate and urethra. PNAS. 102(19): 7014–7019 http://www.pnas.org/content/102/19/7014
  • Luo Q, Li Z, Huang X, Yan J, Zhang S, Cai YZ. 2006. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides: Protective effects against heat-induced damage of rat testes and H2O2-induced DNA damage in mouse testicular cells and beneficial effect on sexual behavior and reproductive function of hemicastrated rats. Life Sci. 79(7):613-21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16563441
  • Zhang C, Wang A, Sun X, Li X, Zhao X, Li S, Ma A. 2013. Protective Effects of Lycium barbarum Polysaccharides on Testis Spermatogenic Injury Induced by Bisphenol A in Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2013:690808. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24454506
Eleni Roumeliotou has trained as a geneticist, gaining a Master degree in Human Molecular Genetics by Imperial College London, UK. She left the academic research environment to focus on her true passion, which is evidence-based natural health and alternative medicine. Eleni is currently working towards her Clinical Nutrition Master degree and is blogging regularly in Primal Health. This article originally appeared here at GreenMedInfo.

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