BPA May Be Linked to Heart Disease Risk
Study Shows Higher Levels of Chemical Mean Higher Risk of Heart Disease
BPA: Possible Health Effects
BPA acts like estrogen in the body, and early research into human effects
focused on this activity. But recent reports have suggested that even low doses
of the chemical may, over time, damage the liver, disrupt the function of
insulin-making cells in the pancreas, disrupt thyroid hormones, and promote
"Much of this debate has been hindered up till now by a lack of
epidemiological data of sufficient statistical power to detect low dose
effects," Melzer collaborator Tamara S. Galloway, PhD, tells WebMD via email.
"That's why there has been so much interest in our current research on human
Galloway says there's a need to learn more about what causes the health
risks they identified -- particularly whether they are caused by BPA itself or
by something else linked to BPA exposure.
"The risks associated with exposure to BPA may be small, but they are
relevant to very large numbers of people," she says. "This information is
important since it provides a great opportunity for intervention to reduce the
The FDA is conducting a safety assessment of BPA. That assessment, scheduled
for release late last year, is still pending.
The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says there is
some concern about BPA safety for fetuses, infants, and children but negligible
concern over the chemical's reproductive toxicity for adults.
The American Chemistry Council, a group representing the chemical industry,
has in the past defended the safety of BPA. In a written statement provided to
WebMD, Steven G. Hentges, PhD, of the ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group,
says the Metzer study does not prove a link between BPA and heart disease.
"Studies of this type are very limited in what they tell us about potential
impacts on human health. While they can provide helpful information on where to
focus future research, by themselves they cannot and should not be used to
demonstrate that a particular chemical can cause a particular effect," Hentges
says in a news release. "The study itself does not establish a cause-and-effect
relationship between BPA exposure and heart disease."
But Gina Solomon, MD, senior scientist at the environmental group National
Resources Defense Council, says the study is a missing piece that helps to
solve the BPA puzzle.
"Already we know that BPA is associated with diabetes and metabolic
disturbances, so it is not surprising this carries out to heart disease,"
Solomon tells WebMD. "These results make sense and really increase our level of
concern that BPA is a public health threat."
Solomon also sees a silver lining in the finding that BPA levels dropped by
nearly a third from 2003-2004 to 2005-2006.
"This is showing that the voluntary actions taken by manufacturers to remove
BPA from their products may be having an effect," she says. "But even the lower
levels found in this study are still linked to health effects, so more action
needs to occur to protect the public."