How Does BPA Interact with the Body?

Q: Given all the recent news and controversy about BPA, I’d like to know how it supposedly interacts with the body.

A: Bisphenol A is a HOT TOPIC, and I know that many Care2 readers are very well-informed. BPA has been known to leach from the plastic lining of canned foods and, to a lesser degree, polycarbonate plastics that are cleaned with harsh detergents or used to contain acidic or high-temperature liquids. While most exposure is through diet, exposure can also occur through air and through skin absorption.

The first major study of bisphenol A’s effects on humans was published in September 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The cross-sectional study of almost 1,500 people assessed exposure to bisphenol A by looking at levels of the chemical in urine. The authors found that high bisphenol A levels were significantly associated with heart disease, diabetes, and abnormally high levels of certain liver enzymes.

Animal studies have also suggested that BPA can permanently change the structure of the genital tracts during development, predispose breast cells to cancer, enlarge the prostate, decrease testosterone levels, and change the brain structure.

Studies by the CDC found bisphenol A in the urine of 95 percent of adults sampled in 1988–1994 and in 93 percent of children and adults tested in 2003–04. Infants fed with liquid formula are among the most exposed, and those fed formula from polycarbonate bottles can consume up to 13 micrograms of bisphenol A per kg of body weight per day.

The FDA is still actively investigating this issue. Currently, the FDA feels that FDA-regulated products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects.

This position is consistent with current recommendation in Europe and Japan.

Here’s my thought. Why put yourself at risk? BPA is not essential to your livelihood. Perhaps it makes life a little more convenient at times because of the products in which it is used, but there are plenty of ways to avoid it.

Learn more:
How to purge plastic from your life
Watch out for plastic water bottles

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at


Tmg m.
Tmg m.7 years ago

The health effects of BPA are absolutely terrifying. See this recent blog post on the movie Tapped for more on the topic! (

Trish K.
Trish K7 years ago

I think BPA is in roads, roofing, containers, clothing, everything .
God Bless Us All

chiari legare
Chiari L7 years ago

btw, i do not trust the FDA. they are money hungry.

chiari legare
Chiari L7 years ago

this is really scary

Jelena L.
Jelena L7 years ago


Ann Eastman
Ann Eastman7 years ago

Well put- why put ourselves- or those we love- at risk? More recent research supports significant caution!

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago


Errin E.
Errin E9 years ago

Maybe someone should study how constantly eating foods contained (and even cooked in) these estrogen-mimicing products is affecting early-onset puberty in girls. I hear all the time that it's because of obesity, but maybe the obesity is because of the 'estrogen' exposure - in males and females. I know that I gained 15 pounds on my stomach and hips with birth-control pills in just a few months - how are unfiltered estrogen levels in our water, and estrogen-mimics like BPA in all of our pre-packaged and processed foods affecting childhood development and thus childhood (and adult) obesity?

Liberty G.
Liberty G9 years ago

The concern about BPA goes way back to 1999, when a group of concerned public interest groups petitioned the EPA to address the chemical's use in baby bottles and plastic cling wrap. See:

It is sad that because of corporate influence on our medical and research efforts, we are often subjected to harmful substances for years before regulators are forced to act. BPA is a poster child for this - in one examination of industry-connected or funded studies, 100 percent found BPA harmless. But 100 per cent of independent research pointed to serious concerns with this endocrine-disrupting estrogen mimic!