Baby Bottle Chemical Bisphenol A Once Again under Fire

Posted on Sep 16, 2008 in Cancer

The Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program on Wednesday released a final report on the safety of bisphenol A (BPA) accusing the chemical for health and developmental problems.

BPA is a synthetic hormone that has been shown to leach out of a certain type of plastic when heated, endangering the health of consumers. Hard polycarbonate plastic is used in baby bottles, toddler cups, water bottles and other recipients.

The chemical has been under debate since April this year when a report issued by the National Toxicology Program, part of the US National Institutes of Health revealed that their study on mice given BPA on regular basis resulted in precancerous prostate tumors, urinary system problems and early puberty when the animals were given low doses of the chemical.

“However, because these effects in animals occur at bisphenol A exposure levels similar to those experienced by humans, the possibility that bisphenol A may alter human development cannot be dismissed,” the report concluded at the time.

The report was highly contested by plastic industry representatives who called the lab experiments inconclusive and flawed. But its results have been confirmed in time by other studies making consumers anxious over the possible adverse effects of BPA.

Despite these warnings, the US Food and Drug Administration last month said there isn’t enough evidence to support banning BPA from baby and food products but a hearing is scheduled on Sept. 16 in Rockville, Maryland to discuss the BPA issue.

The NTP’s report reveals there are “some concerns” for effects on the brain, prostate gland and on behavior in fetuses, infants and children; “minimal concern” for effects on the mammary gland and an earlier age for puberty for females in fetuses, infants, and children and for reproductive effects in adults who work with BPA; and “negligible concern” for fetal or neonatal death, birth defects or reduced birth weight and growth in babies born to women exposed to BPA during pregnancy and also for reproductive effects in adults who don’t work with BPA.

However, the report does not say BPA should be banned but more research is needed to fully understand how the chemical affects human health.

“There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear advance health affects. But we have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed,” NTP Associate Director John Bucher, PhD, said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 93 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their urine, but this percentage is not harmful. The risk is greater for those with a “high” level of exposure-a group that includes formula-fed infants.

Many environmental groups say BPA can hurt children an animal. Also, consumer safety groups say BPA, which is a synthetic hormone similar to estrogen, can interfere with how the body absorbs the natural hormone estrogen, which is needed in the development of young bodies.

The report was published in the Aug. – Sept. 2008 issue of Reproductive Toxicology.