In an earlier blog, we wrote about conflicting conclusions being drawn concerning the safety of bisphenol A, or BPA. The National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that BPA is of “some concern” – the midpoint of a five-level scale – for developmental effects of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children. In contrast, this past August the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that the small amounts of BPA that leach out of containers and into food or milk are not dangerous.
But more recently a Food and Drug Administration advisory board voted to say that the agency ignored critical evidence suggesting that BPA could harm children.The FDA’s science board, a group of outside experts, voted unanimously to endorse a report that found major flaws in the agency’s decision in August to declare BPA safe. The science board agreed with the finding that that the FDA was wrong to base its August decision that BPA is safe only on studies funded by the chemical industry. Excluded studies suggest that BPA could pose harm to children at levels at least 10 times lower than what the agency allows.
High levels of BPA exposure have been linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes and a decreased sensitivity to chemotherapy in cancer patients. The compound, which acts like the hormone estrogen, is also linked to developmental and brain effects in infants. Children are commonly exposed to BPA from plastic baby bottles, the linings of metal liquid formula cans and other consumer products.
Since the FDA completed its original analysis in August, additional data on the potential health effects of BPA have emerged. A study published September 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates higher levels of BPA in urine was associated with higher incidences of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and liver enzyme abnormalities. The article represents the first large-scale study of BPA in a human population.
Parents have the option of using BPA-free products – including glass, stainless steel and some innovative next-generation plastics that do not contain the chemical.
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