When will the FDA ban bisphenol A? Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical compound widely used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic bottles, food and beverage can linings, thermal receipts, and dental sealants. Although some countries have banned the chemical in some or all products including baby bottles, BPA continues to remain legal in the United States. The FDA cites a lack of convincing evidence that BPA causes harm.
However, a new study by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as published in the journal Endocrinology concluded that BPA exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of prostate cancer in male offspring. Bisphenol A mimics the hormone estrogen, which has been linked to several types of cancer including prostate cancer.
Unfortunately, simply avoiding BPA during pregnancy is not that easy. As Gail Prins, professor of physiology and director of the andrology laboratory at the UIC College of Medicine, explains:
“Previous studies have shown that people who avoided all contact with plastics or other BPA-containing objects for up to a month or more still had BPA in their urine, which means they must have come into contact with BPA in the last 24 to 48 hours, since it clears the body rather quickly. It’s very hard to avoid.”
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made a concerted effort to avoid BPA. I switched to BPA-free water bottles. I still buy BPA-free plastics when possible. However, my family currently eats a lot of canned food. The plastic lining inside cans is one potential source of BPA. I have been trying to find brands without BPA but have had little success. I plan to switch to frozen fruits and veggies as much as possible in the near future.
Thermal print receipts are another common source of BPA. Because my library uses thermal receipts, I unfortunately find myself exposed to the chemical on an almost daily basis. I wash my hands frequently and try to remember to wash my hands after handling the receipts before eating, but I can attest that avoiding BPA is extremely difficult.
In addition to the increased risk of prostate cancer in male offspring, BPA exposure during pregnancy also increases the risk of asthma in children. As my husband reported last year, increased levels of BPA in the body during pregnancy correlated to an increased risk of asthma in children. Furthermore, children exposed to BPA after birth had an increased risk of wheezing and asthma.
BPA exposure during pregnancy may also increase the risk for diabetes. In a 2010 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the researchers concluded that “BPA may contribute to metabolic disorders relevant to glucose homeostasis and that BPA may be a risk factor for diabetes.” I previously reported on a study that concluded that male mice suffered no negative impact in terms of their testes when exposed to BPA in large does in utero. However, other research indicates that BPA exposure during pregnancy may harm babies in other ways.
I could discuss additional recent studies that have linked bisphenol A to health problems. With alternative to the potentially harmful chemical available, what exactly is the FDA waiting for? Ban BPA in the United States and throughout the world today!
Bisphenol A Exposure During Pregnancy Disrupts Glucose Homeostasis in Mothers and Adult Male Offspring: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944084/
BPA Exposure During Pregnancy Increases Cancer Risk: http://usaherald.com/29597/bpa-exposure-pregnancy-increases-cancer-risk/
No Phenol Cash Receipt: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_phenol_cash_receipt.JPG