Parker Waichman LLP Injury Alerts
STUDIES CONTINUE TO LINK BPA, A COMMONLY USED CHEMICAL, TO SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARDSSep 1, 2008 BPA (bisphenol-A), is and estrogen-like chemical compound that is widely used (3 million tons annually) in the production of plastic food containers, the epoxy resins that line food cans, dental sealants, baby bottles, and toys. The highest levels of the chemical were found in cans of peas. It has also been food in the liquid contained in cans of beans, artichokes, mixed vegetables, corn, and mushrooms. BPA is a component of polycarbonate plastics contained in many consumer products. It is also present in drinking water and in household air, in the form of dust.
Research has now repeatedly shown that BPA leaches out of products and may be absorbed into the body at low concentrations. Those low doses, however, appear to be sufficient to pose numerous (quite serious) health risks as a result of multiple animal studies as well as those which analyzed available human data.
In addition, more than 100 studies published in peer-reviewed journals have shown the detrimental effects of BPA.
September 2008 – BPA Linked to Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disorders:
Researchers believe they have the data to support their conclusion that exposure to BPA may be putting millions of people at an increased risk for cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and liver abnormalities.
According to David Melzer, M.B., Ph.D., of Peninsula Medical School, and his colleagues in the Sept. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): Urinary levels of BPA were significantly higher in people with diagnoses of angina, coronary heart disease, and diabetes, those who had suffered heart attacks, and those with elevated liver enzymes.
Amazingly, the study cites data suggesting BPA is detectable in the urine of 90% of adult Americans.
Only last month, however, the FDA, through its Commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., took the position that "the science FDA has reviewed does not justify recommending that anyone discontinue using these products."
On September 16, the FDA was scheduled to hold a public hearing its draft assessment of BPA safety. The JAMA study and editorial were released to coincide with the FDA hearing.
The study used data from 1,455 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2004 in whom urine levels of BPA and creatinine were measured. The researchers then correlated BPA levels with the presence of several common disorders.
After appropriate adjustments for age, sex, urinary creatinine, race and ethnicity, education, income, smoking status, body mass index, and waist circumference, the researchers found the “odds ratios” for each standard deviation of urinary BPA above the mean for the following diseases: angina, coronary heart disease; heart attack, all cardiovascular disease; and diabetes.
The researchers, who did not recommend restricting BPA use on the basis of their findings, also looked for, but did not find, possible links to cancer, arthritis, overt liver disease, chronic respiratory diseases, stroke, and thyroid disease.
Non-Hispanic blacks had significantly higher mean levels of the compound than non-Hispanic whites. Participants ages 18 to 29 had higher mean levels than those 60 to 74. Although mean BPA levels tended to be higher in those with body mass index of 35 or greater than those with BMI below 25, the difference was not of statistical significance.
The researchers stressed that independent duplication of the findings is now needed to confirm the associations and to provide evidence as to whether the associations are causal. They also noted that the urinary concentrations on which they based their analysis only reflected recent exposure. Thus, "Repeat measurements over weeks, months, or even years would improve the assessment of longer-term exposure."
In the accompanying editorial by Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, and John Peterson Myers, Ph.D., of Environmental Health Sciences in Charlottesville, Va., the writers concluded that it was not too soon for federal regulators to act on this new data.
The editorial stated: "The study...while preliminary with regard to these diseases in humans, should spur U.S. regulatory agencies to follow the recent action taken by Canadian regulatory agencies, which have declared BPA a 'toxic chemical' requiring aggressive action to limit human and environmental exposures."
Drs. vom Saal and Meyers also claimed that "an aggressive disinformation campaign," was designed to undermine the reliability of independent scientific findings on the compound's dangers. This, they argue has discouraged the FDA and European regulators from restricting BPA use.
The doctors also cited previous animal studies on BPA as "overwhelming evidence of harm." (see below). They also expressed concern that banning the chemical may not stop its continued contributions to disease since: "Eliminating direct exposures from its use in food and beverage containers will prove far easier than finding solutions for the massive worldwide contamination by this chemical due its disposal in landfills and the dumping into aquatic ecosystems of myriad other products containing bisphenol A, which Canada has already declared to be a major environmental contaminant."
December 2005 – BPA Found to Disrupt Brain Development:
A University of Cincinnati (UC) research team, now reports in two articles in the December edition of the journal Endocrinology that BPA shows negative effects in brain tissue "at surprisingly low doses." Although best known for its function as a female sex hormone, estrogen also has very important roles in the developing brain of both males and females.
According to team leader, Dr. Scott Belcher: "These new studies are also the first to show that estrogen's rapid signaling mechanisms are active in the developing and maturing brain in regions not thought to be involved with sexual differences or reproductive functions."
Dr. Belcher is an associate professor in the pharmacology and cell biophysics department at UC College of Medicine. He stated that: "BPA molecules are linked into polymers used to create polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins that are widely used in many products. While plastics are typically thought of as being stable, scientists have known for many years that the chemical linkage between BPA molecules was unstable, and that BPA leaches into food or beverages in contact with the plastics."
This most recent study utilized rats at a period in their development equivalent to the third trimester of human fetal development through to the first few years of childhood.
In the absence of estrogen, BPA alone was found to mimic the actions of estrogen in developing neurons. Very low doses of BPA completely inhibited the activity of estrogen. Since estrogen normally increases the growth of neurons and regulates their viability during development, these results support the theory that BPA may harm developing brain cells.
The most startling and disturbing finding, however, was that near-maximal effects of BPA on rat brain neurons occurred "at surprisingly low" doses of only 0.23 parts per trillion and happened in a matter of minutes.
These low-dose results indicate that BPA may be inflicting maximal damage at levels found in developing fetuses and typical human exposure thereby raising the possibility that detection is being missed by standard approaches used in measuring chemical exposure.
According to Dr. Belcher: "Estrogen's actions on these neurons appear to be a double-edged sword. During certain periods of development estrogen can kill specific subsets of neurons, but at a later developmental stage it actually appears to increase their viability."
Any disruption of either of these actions of estrogen could be considered potentially harmful, Dr. Belcher added. "We have now shown that environmental estrogens like BPA appear to alter, in a very complicated fashion, the normal way estrogen communicates with immature nerve cells. The developmental effects that we studied are known to be important for brain development and also for normal function of the adult brain."
Despite the fact that plastics free of BPA and other toxic chemicals are already available, the chemical industry and every federal agency charged with regulating such compounds have resisted all efforts to have BPA banned.
June 2005 – Japanese Study Links BPA to Recurrent Miscarriages:
BPA (already implicated as a possible cause of breast cancer) was linked to recurrent miscarriages in a study at Nagoya City University Medical School published in Human Reproduction Magazine.
The researchers, led by Dr. Mayumi Sugiura-Ogasawara of the OBGYN department, examined 77 women. Of that group, 45 had suffered three or more consecutive miscarriages and 32 had a history of successful pregnancies.
The women in the miscarriage group were found to have average BPA levels approximately three times higher than those who had not miscarried. Because of the small size of the study, further research is needed into the precise nature of the effect BPA has on human reproduction.
May 2005 - Researchers Find Link between BPA and Breast Cancer:
An animal study suggests that even at extremely low concentrations, BPA exposure in the womb may be harmful. Moreover, the study uncovered evidence that BPA may be a breast cancer risk factor because of its potential effect on the development of vulnerable and sensitive breast tissue.
January 2005 – BPA Shown to Increase the Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells:
A study conducted by a research team at University of Cincinnati and published in the January 2005 issue of the journal Cancer Research reported that BPA increased the growth of some prostate cancer cells.
Certainly, these studies offer considerable proof that the experts, who are seeking to ban BPA, or at least significantly restrict its use, are not simply “crying wolf.” The evidence is clearly more than conjecture or speculation, and one must wonder why the FDA is once again dragging its feet while a potential time bomb is ticking away in every household, school, and supermarket in the country.
Parker Waichman LLP has been in the forefront of “toxic” substance litigation for many years. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of being exposed to a toxic substance of any kind, please do not hesitate to contact us at www.yourlawyer.com for a free consultation.