How Dangerous Is BPA? The Evidence So Far

BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical compound used to harden many types of plastic. It is most common in food containers and water bottles, and it is used to treat the outer shells of most canned goods. There has been much debate about the health concerns related to BPA.

The first scare began when it was discovered that BPA can leech from plastics or cans into the food or water they contain. Once ingested, this chemical may cause issues in the brain, endocrine system, and reproductive organs. Children were found to be especially at risk. This caused an uproar that convinced the major manufacturers of children’s toys, baby bottles, and other infant devices to stop using BPA in their plastics.

The Health Risks of BPA

BPA exposure may cause a variety of health risks. Again, many of these risks are currently unproven in humans and based only on theoretical or animal studies.

Hormones:
BPA may act like a hormone on the body. This will disrupt normal hormone function and can lead to a variety of growth and behavior issues.

Cancer:
Some studies have linked higher levels of BPA to an increased risk of cancer. This is unsurprising, considering that any foreign chemical in the body generally leads to increased risk of cancer.

Brain and Other Conditions:
BPA exposure has a weak link to a variety of other problems, including ADHD and other neurologic disorders.

The Current Stance

The FDA has formally issued a statement that BPA is not harmful to humans at its present levels, but this does not mean that it is completely harmless. The facts also indicate that BPA tends to stick around once it is in your body. This means that as you are exposed to BPA over time, you will end up with more and more in your body.

Due to the pervasiveness of BPA in our environment, the government has begun to take greater strides to regulate it in products. A recent act, The Ban on Poisonous Additives Act, has been reintroduced to Congress. This act would regulate chemicals such as BPA that have very slow-acting effects on the body and would require periodic re-examinations of products currently considered safe by the FDA. This will ensure that investigation into BPA continues so that its long-term health risks can be better understood. It will also ensure that if a greater threat from BPA is discovered it will be easier to take action to regulate it.

Minimizing Exposure

Although there is not enough conclusive evidence to confirm that BPA is harmful, experts do recommend taking some basic steps to reduce BPA exposure, especially in children, in order to limit the buildup of the chemical in the body. Avoid foods in cans or stored in plastic containers. Aim for glass or ceramic containers instead. Avoid heating plastics or cans as this can increase the leeching of BPA. Do not use plastics over the long term. Leeching increases as the plastics age and wear. Recycle water bottles or food containers after several uses.

Sources

http://children.webmd.com/environmental-exposure-head2toe/bpa
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bpa/AN01955