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.
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 www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.