Plastics chemical linked to health problems

British researchers have linked a common chemical used in plastic drink containers and baby bottles to health problems, specifically heart disease and diabetes.

Environmental and consumer activists who have questioned the safety of bisphenol A, or BPA, have relied on studies showing harm from exposure in laboratory animals.

But British researchers, who published their findings today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analysed urine and blood samples from 1,455 US adults aged 18 to 74 who were representative of the general population.

Using government health data, they found that the 25 per cent of people with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their bodies were more than twice as likely to have heart disease and, or diabetes compared to the 25 per cent of with the lowest levels.

"Most of these findings are in keeping with what has been found in animal models," Iain Lang, a researcher at the University of Exeter in Britain who worked on the study, told a news conference.

"This is the first ever study (of this kind) that has been in the general population," Lang said.

Steven Hentges of the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry group, said the design of the study did not allow for anyone to conclude BPA causes heart disease and diabetes.

"At least from this study, we cannot draw any conclusion that bisphenol A causes any health effect. As noted by the authors, further research will be needed to understand whether these statistical associations have any relevance at all for human health," Hentges said in a telephone interview.

A US Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts will hear testimony on health effects from BPA as it reviews a draft report it issued last month calling BPA safe.

"The study, while preliminary with regard to these diseases in humans, should spur US regulatory agencies to follow recent action taken by Canadian regulatory agencies, which have declared BPA a 'toxic chemical' requiring aggressive action to limit human and environmental exposures," Frederick vom Saal of the University of Missouri and John Peterson Myers of the nonprofit US-based Environmental Health Sciences, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a clear shatter-resistant material in products ranging from baby and water bottles to plastic eating utensils to sports safety equipment and medical devices.

It also is used to make durable epoxy resins used as the coating in most food and beverage cans and in dental fillings.

People can consume BPA when it leaches out of plastic into liquid such as baby formula, water or food inside a container.

In the study, the team said the chemical is present in more than 90 percent of people, suggesting there is not much that can be done to avoid the chemical of which over 2.2 million tonnes is produced each year.

The researchers, who will also present their findings at the US FDA session on Tuesday, added it was too early to identify a mechanism through which the chemical may be doing harm.

Animal studies have suggested the chemical may disrupt hormones, especially estrogen.

The researchers also cautioned that these findings are just the first step and more work is needed to determine if the chemical actually is a direct cause of disease.

"Bisphenol A is one of the world's most widely produced and used chemicals, and one of the problems until now is we don't know what has been happening in the general population," said Tamara Galloway, a University of Exeter researcher who worked on the study.

Canada's government in April decided BPA was harmful to infants and toddlers and announced plans to ban some products.

The European Union's top food safety body said in July the amount of BPA found in baby bottles cannot harm human health.

Suggested Topics
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before