Resource Post for November
Ever since it hit the news late last year, bisphenol A (BPA) is getting more and more notorious. The latest development in the BPA story is this – researchers at the University of Cincinnati reported that exposure to BPA may actually reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments among cancer patients.
According to a report of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
“BPA is a high production volume chemical used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins… The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet…BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure.”
According to the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU)
“BPA may cause changes in cells in breasts, the uterus, and the prostate which can increase risk of cancers. In addition, BPA has been associated with increases in developmental disorders of the brain and nervous system in animals. These developmental disorders in animals are like problems such as ADHD (attention deficit hyper-reactivity disorder) in humans.”
Let us back track a bit about what happened since last year.
An article in Toxicology Letters (online edition) showed that BPA in polycarbonate bottles are leaching out of the containers into the drinks. The article goes on to say that BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) that mimics the hormone estrogen.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has detected BPA in infant formulas. 4 out of the top 5 companies questioned acknowledged using BPA in their packaging.
Nalgene polycarbonate bottles were taken off the shelves in Canada.
Canada announces its plans to ban BPA-containing bottles.
European Food Safety Authority’s AFC Panel declared human BPA exposure is too low to cause any real harm. According to the panel’s report, the human body rapidly metabolises and eliminates BPA out of the body.
September 3, 2008
The NTP reported the following concerns about BPA:
- “some concern” for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, babies, and children at the current levels of exposure.
- “minimal concern” for effects on breast development and early onset of puberty in females
- “negligible concern” that exposure of pregnant women to BPA will result in damage to the unborn child.
- “minimal concern” BPA exposure will cause reproductive effects in workers exposed to higher BPA levels in their place of work but “negligible concern” that to adults exposed to BPA during normal daily activities
September 17, 2008
Researchers at the University of Exeter (UK) reported detecting BPA in the urine of a large portion of a test group of 1455 people. In addition, high levels of BPA in the urine were associated with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and kidney problems.
October 8, 2008
The University of Cincinnati reports about BPA’s effect on chemotherapy. In the study, BPA seems to mimic estrogen’s action on cancer cells – which is the induction of proteins that can protect the cancer cells from the effects of chemotherapy agents.
October 10, 2008
The American states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, through their attorney generals officially asked in writing 11 manufacturers to eliminate BPA from milk formula packaging as well from baby bottles.
This study demonstrated that when pregnant mice were exposed to low-dose BPA, changes in the neurobehavioral development of the offsprings were observed.
Another study in mice should that BPA exposure during pregnancy altered the cellular structure of the breasts.
October 28, 2008
Based on a review by a subcommittee, the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) stated that
“consumers should know that, based on all available evidence, the present consensus among regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan is that current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.”
In addition, the US FDA thinks the Canadian restrictions on BPA are “out of an abundance of caution.”
Although the US FDA tries to reassure the public’s concerns about BPA, concerns about BPA is increasing and this latest findings on chemotherapy resistance “provide considerable support to the accumulating evidence that BPA is hazardous to human health.”
So how do you protect yourself from the potential hazards of BPA?
For your safety, PEHSU gives the following advice:
- Avoid plastics with symbol # 3 (PVC or polyvinyl), symbol # 6 (PS or polystyrene foam) and symbol #.
- Do not microwave food/beverages in plastic
- Do not microwave or heat plastic cling wraps
- Do not place plastics in the dishwasher
- If using hard polycarbonate plastics (water bottles/baby bottles/sippy cups), do not use for warm/hot liquids
- Use safe alternatives such as glass or polyethylene plastic (symbol #1)
- Avoid canned foods when possible (BPA may be used in can linings)
- Look for labels on products that say “phthalate-free” or “BPA-free”