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Study says BPA disrupts fetal development

By: Jeremy Carroll

October 11, 2013

A review of several dozen studies says prenatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) disrupts fetal development and could set the stage for later-life diseases, but the American Chemistry Council called the paper “narrow” and “selective.”

The paper was released by the Breast Cancer Fund, an advocacy group that has lobbied to eliminate all BPA from food products. In food, BPA is most commonly found in canned foods as a barrier to help protect against spoilage and contamination.

BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today, “and has a safety track record of 50 years,” said Steven Hentges of ACC’s polycarbonate/BPA global group.

“Unlike the narrow, selective review undertaken by the Breast Cancer Fund, major regulatory agencies worldwide have thoroughly reviewed the extensive scientific evidence and have consistently reached the same conclusion — that BPA is safe at the trace levels found in food products,” Hentges said in a statement provided to Plastics News. “In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration recently reaffirmed this conclusion by clearly stating that BPA is safe based on the agency’s recent review of its research and hundreds of other studies, and continues to support the use of BPA in food containers and packaging.”

Sharima Rasanayagam, co-author of the paper and director of science for the Breast Cancer Fund, disagreed; saying their review of the issue covered more than 60 studies on prenatal exposure to BPA. The various studies ranged from those on rodents to rhesus monkey fetuses and association studies in humans babies.

“The bottom line is active BPA, which is acting like estrogen, is getting through the placenta barrier and getting to the babies in the womb,” Rasanayagam said. “And we’re seeing association studies with humans and experimental studies with animals that are showing future effects on health of the offspring.”

The paper said BPA reaches the fetus through the mother’s bloodstream, and “while the mother’s body partially metabolizes BPA before it reaches the fetus, strong evidence indicates that the fetus is exposed to the active, estrogenic form of BPA.”

The placental barrier does not protect the fetus from exposure to the more potent, active form of BPA, the paper said. The report said human studies document the presence of BPA in various maternal and fetal fluids and tissues. Ten studies found BPA in human fetal tissues, including cord blood and plasma, the paper reported.

BPA has been taken out of baby bottles and infant formula containers, but Rasanayagam said that is not far enough, calling for BPA eliminated completely from human consumption.

“We’d like to see BPA taken out of the food chain, from food packaging,” she said. “Also whatever they replace BPA with needs to be tested for safety because we don’t to have a regrettable substitution. We’re pushing for safer alternatives to be used.”

In a telephone interview with Plastics News, Hentges said the Breast Cancer Fund “cherry picked” data of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of reports on BPA.

“The Breast Cancer Fund report is really just a summary of the studies they have cherry picked that support the conclusion they want to reach,” he said. “It’s not a scientific analysis. It’s nothing remotely close to what government agencies like the FDA would do.”