Tag Archives: plastic

FDA shifts stance on safety of BPA in plastics

Scientists link BPA in plastics to heart disease
Wow. No sooner do I post a blog in which I say, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering whether any action needs to be taken (about BPA). And I would expect them to express a more cautionary tone in the future. There’s just too much evidence now to not do so,” than the FDA announces a reversal of its position.

In a front-page story, the New York Times reported, “In a shift of position, the Food and Drug Administration is expressing concerns about possible health risks from bisphenol-A, or BPA, a widely used component of plastic bottles and food packaging that it declared safe in 2008.”

The FDA is now saying it has “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.”

While the agency plans to “join other federal health agencies in studying the chemical in both animals and humans,” federal “officials said there was no proof that BPA was dangerous to humans.” FDA principal deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said, “If we thought it was unsafe, we would be taking strong regulatory action.”

Dr. Sharfstein explained, “We have some concern, which leads us to recommend reasonable steps the public can take to reduce exposure to BPA,” the Washington Post added. “Sharfstein said the agency is conducting ‘targeted’ studies of BPA, part of a two-year, $30 million effort by the administration to answer key questions about the chemical that will help determine what action, if any, is necessary to protect public health.

The Los Angeles Times noted that the “FDA action, which was praised by industry officials and criticized by some food safety and consumer watchdog groups, comes after more than a year of controversy.”

USA Today reported that, along with the increased research, the FDA is “encouraging manufacturers to stop making baby feeding products containing BPA” and “wants to help manufacturers to find safer materials to line metal cans of liquid baby formula.”

The FDA “also is looking into ways to expand its authority to regulate BPA, in case scientists do find definitive evidence of harm, says Joshua Sharfstein.”

The Boston Globe reported that in precautionary recommendations, HHS suggested consumers “throw away scratched cups and bottles with Bisphenol A because small amounts of the chemical can seep out and be ingested by children.” Deputy HHS Secretary William Corr said, “Recent reports show subtle effects of BPA in lab animals that has raised concerns.”

In its report, CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace asks University of Missouri professor Fred Vom Saal, “How convinced are you that elevated levels of BPA in people’s bodies can lead to cancers, heart disease, obesity and early puberty?”

Vom Saal replied, “I and other colleagues of mine at an NIH (National Institutes of Health) meeting said, with a very high level of confidence, we think Bisphenol A is a threat to human health.”

Here are a couple of my past blogs on BPA:

Scientists link BPA in plastics to heart disease

#mce_temp_url#With disagreement over baby bottle chemical (bisphenol A), what’s a parent to do?

Reuters Health in London is reporting that exposure to a chemical found in plastic containers is linked to heart disease. Scientists researching bisphenol A, known as BPA, have just confirmed earlier findings casting suspicion on BPA and adding to pressure to ban its use in bottles and food packaging — not only for those containers of food or drink for infants and children, but also adults.

British and U.S. researchers studied the effects of the chemical bisphenol A using data from a U.S. government national nutrition survey in 2006 and found that high levels of it in urine samples were associated with heart disease.

Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is widely used in plastics and has been a growing concern for scientists in countries such as Britain, Canada and the United States, where food and drug regulators are examining its safety.

David Melzer, professor of epidemiology and public health at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England, who led the study, said the research confirmed earlier findings of a link between BPA and heart problems.

The analysis also confirmed that BPA plays a role in diabetes and some forms of liver disease, said Melzer’s team, who studied data on 1,493 people aged 18 to 74.

“Our latest analysis largely confirms the first analysis, and excludes the possibility that the original report was a statistical blip,” they said in a statement.

BPA, used to stiffen plastic bottles and line cans, belongs to a class of compounds sometimes called endocrine disruptors.

The U.S. Endocrine Society called last June for better studies into BPA and presented research showing the chemical can affect the hearts of women and permanently damage the DNA of mice.

“The risks associated with exposure to BPA may be small, but they are relevant to very large numbers of people. This information is important since it provides a great opportunity for intervention to reduce the risks,” said Exeter’s Tamara Galloway, who worked on the study published by the Public Library of Science online science journal PLoS One.

U.S. environmental health advocacy groups are urging a federal ban on BPA.

“There’s enough research to take definitive action on this chemical to reduce exposures in people and the environment,” Dr. Anila Jacob of the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization, said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering whether any action needs to be taken. And I would expect them to express a more cautionary tone in the future. There’s just too much evidence now to not do so.

U.S. government toxicologists at the National Institutes of Health concluded in 2008 that BPA presents concern for harmful effects on development of the prostate and brain and for behavioral changes in fetuses, infants and children.

Canada’s government plans to outlaw plastic baby bottles made with BPA. The charity Breast Cancer UK last month urged the British government to do the same because they said there was “compelling” evidence linking the chemical to breast cancer risk.

Experts estimate BPA is detectable in the bodies of more than 90 percent of U.S. and European populations. It is one of the world’s highest production volume chemicals, with more than 2.2 million tonnes produced annually.

My advice to my patients is to avoid, as much as possible, containers with BPA — and certainly not to heat or microwave items in BPA containers. Also, for parents I advise that they not feed their children using plastics containing BPA.

For now, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here are a couple of my past blogs on BPA:

With disagreement over baby bottle chemical (bisphenol A), what’s a parent to do?

USA Today is reporting on the confusion that consumers, in general, and parents, in particular, are having about the safety of chemicals in plastic. Even federal government agencies don’t agree about the hazards posed by bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-like chemical used in plastic that has been detected in the bodies of 93% of Americans tested. The FDA says it’s safe, but new studies question its safety.

My Take? Continue reading

FDA Official Says Baby Bottles With Bisphenol A Safe

According to the Associated Press, the FDA is declaring that “Plastic baby bottles and water bottles are safe.” Thus, the FDA is seeking to ease public concerns about the health hazards of a chemical used in the products. Continue reading