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BPA Difficult to Avoid and Potentially Dangerous

01/20/2010
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Most parents want the best for their children. We meticulously search labels, check sugar and salt contents, pack balanced lunches, and try to fix healthy meals for our families. But before you pack that applesauce or tuna fish sandwich into your child’s lunch box, you might want to check the bottom of the plastic container or can it comes in to see if it contains BPA, or bisphenol A.

For years’ concerned mothers, environmental groups, and some scientists have been warning that BPA is unsafe, and can lead to cancers, diabetes, and other diseases. The FDA in 2008 claimed that BPA was safe, but offered tips to decreasing exposure, especially to young children and infants. Recently, the FDA has shifted its position and released that it is “encouraging families to limit their children’s exposure to a chemical found in thousands of household products.”

On Friday, the FDA declared that more research was needed and has suggested reasonable steps to limit the amount of BPA exposure. The FDA is now saying that BPA is “of some concern, especially on the brain behavior and prostate glands in fetuses, infants and young children.”

A noted researcher of BPA, Dr. Frederick vom Saal, at the University of Missouri, stated:

“The FDA formally acknowledging concern about BPA and working with NIH to incorporate research from outside of the chemical industry is a huge step forward,” said vom Saal, who is a Curator’s professor of biological sciences in MU’s College of Arts and Science. “The FDA position presented today [January 19} is consistent with the position that the National Toxicology Program made two years ago. Since then, considerable published research reaffirmed the health dangers of BPA. The FDA says they want to respond more quickly. Now, we will see if they are really able to respond to the huge amount of new science showing dangers not recognized two years ago. They should move quickly to restrict the use of by BPA in products used by adults as well as infants.”

However, limiting your exposure to BPA isn’t easy and may be hard to avoid because currently, manufacturers aren’t required to label products containing the chemical. The biggest way to decrease your intake of BPA is by limiting your use of canned foods and foods in plastic containers. Baby bottle manufacturers make bottles that are BPA-free and some plastic containers have the number three or seven on the bottom, which means it does contain BPA. Some recycled pizza boxes also contain the chemical, but are not labeled.

The FDA has historically maintained that BPA is safe largely on the basis of two studies funded by the chemical industry. However, more than 100 independent studies linked BPA exposure to health effects in animals and humans. According to a Washington Post article in 2008, a large study on humans and BPA found that “people with higher levels of bisphenol A had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities,” a finding that immediately became the focus of the increasingly heated debate over the safety of the chemical. The government has been looking into whether chemical manufactures unduly influenced the FDA’s stance on BPA.

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