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Hunting a link between bisphenol A and poor health

September 16, 2008 | 10:02 am

Data on the possible health effects of bisphenol A keep coming. Now, researchers have examined links between urinary concentrations of the chemical and adult health status -- and the findings, though not damning, couldn't be called soothing.

In a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., scientists from the United Kingdom and the University of Iowa analyzed urine samples from 1,455 American adults, asked questions about their health history and took blood samples to measure markers related to liver function and lipid changes.

The conclusion of the study (available in full to anyone interested) says:

"We found that higher urinary concentrations of BPA were associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities. These findings add to the evidence suggesting adverse effects of low-dose BPA in animals."

The researchers go on to state that more studies are needed to confirm the findings and to explain whether the associations are causal (there being a difference between correlation and causation).

But an accompanying editorial (also available to the public) states that the report:

"... should stimulate further studies and reevaluation of the basic assumptions in chemical risk assessments that led to FDA assurances that BPA is safe. Their findings also heighten incentives for green chemistry (a new field based on collaboration between biologists and chemists to develop biologically inert chemicals for use in products) to find cost-effective replacements for BPA applications contributing to widespread human exposures."

In a related Los Angeles Times story, the Food and Drug Administration reiterates its confidence in the safety of the chemical, used to harden plastics.

-- Tami Dennis

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Comments (5)

I wonder if the studies that show no risk are paid for by the plastics industry.

Kind of like the studies that disproved global warming were paid for by the oil industry.

And the smoking & lung cancer studies paid for by tobacco companies.


The FDA erred on the side of caution. Since there is universal and involuntary exposure, everyone is unknowingly dosed with small amounts of this chemical. Research on rodents shows effects on behavior, development of adult diseases etc. The industry research which shows no effects did not look into behavioral effects of this chemical. But such effects have been seen in mice and this month also in monkeys. The plastics industry says there are no documented effects on humans. But that is unethical to do. You would have to expose fetuses to the chemical. So we must resort to studies on monkeys...which show effects...or by epidemiology as in the above JAMA report.

What else do you need. Should we wait till irrefutable proof, while our children and grandchildren might have their behaviour altered by bisphenol A. Or should we err on the side of caution. Lead and asbestos took YEARS to ban, as did tobacco. When for BPA?

This study actually shows that BPA does NOT cause Cardiovascular disease or Diabetes. To make my compressed argument, please look at the Figure and Table 1 in the link to the actual study.

The Figure shows that everybody in the "Not Reported" (healthy) population has a BPA level between approximately 3 and 5. Everybody with BPA levels above 5 has Cardiovascular disease or Diabetes.
So if it is true, that BPA really causes these diseases, then these diseases can be prevented by reducing the BPA levels to below 5. Will this really cure these diseases? I don't think so.

Let's look at Table 1 to find out who has BPA levels above 6.5 (30% above the threshold of 5, which was established above)
Obese II (over 35): 6.93
People who do not know if they smoke: 6.69. How can you not know if you smoke!

The authors should make another figure, like the one they published, but this time excluding Obese people and people unfamiliar with their smoking habits. The result will be that there is no correlation between BPA and Cardiovascular disease or Diabetes.

To respond to the previous poster, yes, the studies that the government used for their analysis had links to the chemical industry (results showing that BPA was harmful would be very expensive problem for industry).

When at all possible, stay away from BPA products or those that you suspect have BPA. One website for baby products that are BPA free is Green Healthy Baby (

Legislators, consumers, and regulatory agencies should have well-justified concerns about the estrogenic activity (EA) exhibited by BPA and phthalates in water bottles and other plastics like baby bottles. While estrogens (the female sex hormones) occur naturally in the body, many scientific studies have shown that significant health problems can occur when chemicals are ingested that mimic or block the actions of these female sex hormones; the fetus, newborn, or young child is especially vulnerable.
However, BPA and phthalates are just two of several hundred chemicals that exhibit EA in plastics. These chemicals having EA leach from almost all plastics sold today, including polyethylene, polypropylene, PET, etc. That is, plastics advertised as BPA-free or phthalate-free are not EA-free; almost all these plastics still leach chemicals having EA – and often have more total EA than plastics that release BPA or phthalates.
Current legislation is attempting to solve this problem by removing chemicals having EA (BPA, phthalates) one at a time. This approach, for legislators or the FDA, is not an appropriate solution for consumers because thousands of chemicals used in plastics exhibit EA, not just BPA and phthalates. This approach is a marketing-driven solution, not a health-driven solution. The appropriate health-driven solution is to manufacture safer plastics that are EA-free. This is not a pie-in-the-sky solution, as the technology already exists to produce EA-free plastics that also have the same advantageous physical properties, as do almost all existing EA-releasing plastics on the market today. In fact, some of these advanced-technology EA-free plastics are already in the marketplace. The cost of these safer EA-free plastics are just pennies more than EA-releasing plastics, when both are used to manufacture the same product in similar quantities.


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