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A new study has provided additional evidence that exposure to the chemical bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, can increase the risk of heart disease.

BPA, which is used in hard clear plastics and food packaging such as in the liners of most tin cans, has been linked to a variety of health disorders.

Earlier research has shown that some patients with cardiovascular disease have elevated levels of BPA in their urine. But this finding did not prove BPA caused their heart problems; after all, the exposure could have occurred long after their health declined. So to dig farther back in time, British researchers examined urine samples that were originally collected from a group of volunteers about a decade ago.

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In particular, they compared BPA urine levels from 758 initially healthy volunteers who later developed heart disease to 861 participants who remained free of heart troubles.

The results, published in the journal Circulation, showed that those who came down with heart disease tended to have higher BPA levels at the start of the 10-year period.

"This study adds to the statistical evidence that there is an association," said the senior author of the study, Tamara Galloway of the University of Exeter.

Some scientists have been warning that BPA could interfere with numerous biological processes because its structure resembles the hormone estrogen.

Dr. Galloway said BPA could be an additional contributor to heart disease, alongside well-known risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

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