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    Is BPA a Threat? continued...

    Is BPA really bad for you? It's an important issue, as nearly all Americans have detectable BPA in their urine and, to a lesser extent, in their blood.

    Just about everyone agrees that BPA is toxic in large enough amounts. But the real question is whether people are exposed to toxic amounts of BPA.

    Animal studies show that BPA can cause cancer. Human studies link high blood levels of BPA to obesity, thyroid problems, reproductive abnormalities, heart disease, childhood behavior problems, and neurologic disorders in humans. These studies only suggest a possible problem -- they do not prove that BPA actually causes any of these harms. BPA has not been proven to cause any human disease or condition.

    The NRDC correctly notes that BPA acts in the body as an estrogen-like hormone, and that even low-level estrogen activity can disrupt normal body functions in adults and normal development in fetuses and in young children.

    Moreover, there's the issue of environmental exposure. BPA is everywhere. While individual exposures may be tiny, and while the body may quickly clear BPA from the blood, we're constantly being re-exposed.

    But is this enough to make a difference in people's health? The NRDC says the FDA should err on the side of safety and ban BPA. The FDA isn't convinced.

    "While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans and the public health impact of BPA," the FDA says in its letter to the NRDC.

    The FDA says it's working on a new safety review of BPA this year. And it notes that another federal agency, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is funding $30 million worth of new BPA research.

    So far, it looks like this research is persuading the FDA that current levels of BPA exposure are safe. The FDA says its research shows that:

    • Exposure to BPA in human infants is from 84% to 92% less than previously estimated.
    • Pregnant animals fed huge amounts of BPA passed very little of the chemical to their unborn babies.
    • People of all ages process and rid their bodies of BPA faster than the rodents used as test animals do.

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