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Volume 86 Issue 38 | p. 14 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 22, 2008

BPA Linked To Health Problems

Chemical tied to higher risk of heart disease
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
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Studies differ on the safety of plastic bottles that contain BPA.
Credit: Britt Erickson/C&EN
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Studies differ on the safety of plastic bottles that contain BPA.
Credit: Britt Erickson/C&EN

A STUDY PUBLISHED in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that people with high concentrations of bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies are more likely to have heart disease, diabetes, and liver damage (J. Am. Med. Assoc. 2008, 300, 1303).

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents major U.S. chemical manufacturers, has steadfastly defended the safety of BPA and says the new JAMA study has substantial limitations and is far from conclusive.

"Overall, due to inherent limitations in study design, this new study cannot support a conclusion that BPA causes any disease," says Steven G. Hentges, executive director of ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. "The weight of scientific evidence continues to support the conclusion of governments worldwide that BPA is not a significant health concern at the trace levels present in some consumer products."

The JAMA study tells a more cautionary tale. "Using data representative of the adult U.S. population, we found that higher urinary concentrations of BPA were associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities," wrote the study's researchers, led by David Melzer of Peninsula Medical School, in Exeter, England.

However, they stress that independent replication and follow-up studies are needed to confirm their findings and to provide evidence on whether the associations are causal.

"Given the substantial negative effects on adult health that may be associated with increased BPA concentrations and also given the potential for reducing human exposure, our findings deserve scientific follow-up," the authors conclude.

The JAMA study was released to coincide with a public meeting, held on Sept. 16, by a committee of the FDA Science Board, an independent advisory panel of the agency. The committee examined a draft report by the agency that concluded BPA is safe at typical exposure levels for continued use in food packaging and liquid containers.

BPA has been the focus of attention since the federal National Toxicology Program issued a draft report in April expressing some concern that the chemical may pose a risk to fetuses, infants, and small children. That same month, Canadian officials called the chemical "potentially harmful" and proposed a ban on baby bottles made with BPA.

 
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