Bisphenol A Tied to Health Problems
Study Shows Plastic Chemical Linked to Heart Disease, Diabetes; Industry Says No Proof Bisphenol A Is to Blame
WebMD News Archive
David Melzer, MB, PHD, worked on the new bisphenol A study. He's a professor
of epidemiology and public health at Peninsula Medical School at England's
University of Exeter.
People with high urinary levels of bisphenol A probably weren't exposed to
extreme levels of bisphenol A, according to Melzer.
"It looks as if what people were exposed to was way lower than what is
considered the safe level at the moment," Melzer tells WebMD. But he adds
that it's not clear where their bisphenol A came from.
Melzer's team isn't calling for a ban on bisphenol A, and they're not
telling people to ditch their canned goods or polycarbonate plastic products.
But they do want to see more research done.
Melzer says future research should check the study's findings in other
groups of people, track healthy people to see if those with high levels of
bisphenol A develop health problems later on, and identify the leading sources
of bisphenol A exposure.
"Which are the main products, which types of food, what particular
packaging is actually delivering these levels into people?" asks Melzer.
"It would be much easier to understand what to do if we knew where it was
coming from, especially in those people who seem to have marginally higher
For now, Melzer warns against jumping to conclusions. "Please don't read
too much into this first study; it's limited in various ways," he says.
Melzer also notes that a healthy
lifestyle -- regardless of bisphenol A -- is still a crucial part of
preventing heart disease and diabetes. "Healthy eating and exercise and so
on are still very important," says Melzer.
Bisphenol A Critic's View
Fred vom Saal, PhD, is a bisphenol A researcher who co-wrote an editorial
published with the study.
"It is important to point out that it is a snapshot study -- one
measurement of bisphenol A and in relation to health status," vom Saal
tells WebMD. But he says the results show "such a strong relationship"
between high urinary bisphenol A levels and health effects.
He explains that bisphenol A acts like estrogen, pushing up insulin levels,
which may lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. "That's exactly what it
does in animals," says vom Saal, who testified at today's FDA meeting
and is critical of the FDA's stance that bisphenol A is safe at
typical exposure levels from food and drink.