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    BPA May Be Linked to Heart Disease Risk

    Study Shows Higher Levels of Chemical Mean Higher Risk of Heart Disease

    continued...

    It's not clear why BPA levels were lower in 2005-2006 than in 2003-2004. Melzer notes that public awareness of possible BPA health effects may have contributed to the decline, though nobody really knows.

    But at these lower overall BPA levels, there was a trend but no significant association between BPA and diabetes or liver enzymes. However, when data from both years was pooled, these links were highly significant.

    While the Melzer study shows a link between BPA and heart disease, it in no way proves that BPA causes heart disease. Such proof may be hard to come by, as definitive studies would mean giving people BPA to see what happens. But longitudinal studies that track people with high BPA levels over time might provide clearer answers.

    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 obesity.

    "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 health effects."

    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 risks."

    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.

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