Is BPA really all that bad?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at Tuesday, March 30, 2010
In one of my previous posts, the Extreme Male Theory of Autism, I touched on the possible link between Autism and various chemicals, specifically BPA (bisphenol A). Now you can’t walk into a store and not see a TON of items listed as BPA-free, especially baby items. So this got me thinking, is BPA really all that bad? Or are we just making a huge deal out of a small amount of research that, when you get down to the nitty gritty, doesn’t really apply to human exposure to BPA. I found a great article from November 2009 posted in the National Research Center for Women & Families that summarizes a lot of scientific findings nicely.

So what is BPA? Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound used to make plastic items such as baby bottles, food storage containers, water bottles, and coats beverage/food containers. BPA is also a known endocrine disruptor (just means it can disrupt the body’s natural hormone functions). One problem with BPA is that more leeches out into our food/beverages as we heat the plastic. Consequently, babies and infants tend to be on of the highest exposure groups. But the skeptical scientist in me stops here and realizes that water, if you have too much, can be bad for you too. So are we causing unnecessary concern over small amounts of BPA? Well, not really.

There have been numerous scientific reports and I will break them down as succinctly as possible. Here are some listings of what BPA has been shown to affect in both animal and human studies:

BPA affects on fetuses/infants/kids:
- the prostate gland, brain, and behavior
- early puberty in girls, interferes with estrogen

BPA and women:
-linked to miscarriages
-insulin resistance (a risk factor for Type II diabetes)
-increased formation and growth of fat cells (which can lead to obesity)

BPA and men:
-(exposure to BPA via work conditions) greater erectile dysfunction, ejaculation and diminished sex drive

BPA and animal studies:
-in rats, a significant increase in precancerous lesions in the mammary glands and prostate
-early onset of puberty in rats receiving doses comparable to what humans would be exposed to
-hyperthyroidism in (especially female) cats (remember the cans are coated with BPA)
-in mice and rats there was an increase in hyperactivity and brain activity
-in nonhuman primates BPA was linked to cognitive issues that could possible contribute to deficits in
learning and memory

BPA in cell lines:
-cancer cells exposed to BPA showed a decreased response to chemotherapy

As a side note, BPA was approved by the FDA for use. However, as the article states,
“according to a publication of the American Chemical Society, the national professional association for chemists, 153 government-funded BPA experiments on lab animals and tissues found adverse effects while only 14 did not”.
This prompted more studies looking at BPA exposure and its effects on humans. A subsequent study (Lang et al., 2008), found that heart disease and diabetes were linked to higher levels of BPA in humans.

Canada, and most (if not all) of Europe has already banned BPA. In the U.S. it was recently announced that there will be increased funding to further study the effects of BPA. And as we can all attest to, BPA has already been removed from many, many products.

So I guess the moral of the story is this…BPA clearly has some pretty toxic effects. What is most alarming is that these deleterious effects occur in the range of our exposure. In our family, we buy as many BPA-free products as possible, as long as it is financially sound and reasonable.

What are your thoughts?

Article Cited and Referenced:
Diana Zuckerman, PhD, Paul Brown, BS, and Laura Walls, BA. Are Bisphenol A (BPA) Plastic Products Safe for Infants and Children? National Research Center for Women & Families, November 2009.

Lang I.A., Galloway T.S., Scarlett A. et al. (2008). Association of Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration With Medical Disorders and Laboratory Abnormalities in Adults. Journal of American Medical Association 300(11),1303-1310.


  1. Anonymous Says:

    153 labs tell the FDA that this is bad for people and only 14 say its not??? What the hell...why isn't this stuff banned along time ago...

  2. NeuronMommy Says:

    Good question!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I have been reading a lot recently about avoiding plastics. So, is BPA the only ingredient in plastic that we should really be wary of?

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