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BPA Linked to Heart Disease and Diabetes

Oct 13, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP A research team from the Peninsula Medical School, the University of Exeter, the University of Plymouth, and the University of Iowa have just revealed information about a link between the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and diabetes and heart disease in adults.  Researchers said the study provided the first scientific evidence that adults with higher BPA levels were likelier to develop these  diseases.

In addition to its long known hormonal and cancer links, earlier this month, separate researchers at the University of Cincinnati also found that BPA reduces the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments.  Some research has linked BPA to obesity.  Also, the federal National Toxicology Program reported BPA may affect the development of the brains and prostate glands of fetuses and young children.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not budge from its position and continues to deem BPA safe, relying heavily on two controversial industry studies for its data.

BPA is used extensively in food and drink containers and baby bottles; is found in drinking water, dental sealants, and household dust; and can be found in the systems of nearly every American.  In recent months, pressure has been mounting for government and corporate action, partly because BPA is so ubiquitous it is nearly impossible to avoid.  Some governmental lawmakers have worked to ban BPA from children’s products and some companies, such as Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and Naglene, are either not producing or selling BPA products or banning its use in its products.  BPA is one of the world's highest production volume chemicals, with over 6.4 billion pounds produced in 2003 and annual increases in demand of between six-10 percent annually.

The researchers analyzed research results for 1,455 adults between the ages of 18 and 74 and found that 25 percent of the population with the highest BPA levels were more than twice as likely to have heart disease and/or diabetes, compared with the 25 percent with the lowest BPA levels; the recent research also echoed earlier findings that higher BPA levels were linked with clinically abnormal liver enzyme concentrations.  Professor David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Peninsula Medical School, who led the study, says the study revealed, for the first time, an association between raised BPA loads and two common diseases in adults.  The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Yet, despite continuing and mounting evidence that BPA poses a danger to humans, the FDA—the agency charged with protecting Americans from such dangers—continues to maintain and defend BPA’s safety.  "Right now, our tentative conclusion is that it's safe, so we're not recommending any change in habits," said Laura Tarantino, head of the FDA's office of food additive safety.  Instead of working toward a ban, the FDA is saying yet more research is needed.  Unfortunately, the FDA only seems to be listening to reports developed by industry and refuses to heed warnings issued by nonindustry-connected scientists.

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