New BPA Study: Chemical May Affect Behaviors

A new study released last month now suggests that maternal exposure to <"">bisphenol A (BPA) could eliminate or decrease sex differences in certain behavioral responses.  This study is noteworthy because it lends credence to the increasing evidence that BPA exposure affects behaviors and the brain, among other health concerns.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) have not been able to agree on the safety of the ubiquitous, estrogenic chemical that is in the bloodstream of nearly every American and can be found in a wide array of consumer and children’s products.

The NTP reports that it “has some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.”  But, the FDA claimed in August that BPA poses no risk based on evidence currently available and suggested more research is needed to prove or disprove the notion that BPA is toxic.  Also noteworthy is that the FDA utilized two industry-derived reports in order to deem the chemical safe.

Despite the FDA’s findings, the FDA Science Board said today that the FDA’s review on BPA was inadequate or flawed.  Late last week, the FDA Science Board met to review the subcommittee’s report and concluded that the agency was wrong when it said in August that BPA poses no health risks at current exposure levels.  In response, FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, reportedly said, “Let me be clear: There’s no shame for having” your hypothesis disproved.

The problem with the FDA opinion that was released this summer was—in addition to having relied on industry-sponsored studies—the FDA chose not to look at those studies that overwhelmingly linked harmful health effects to BPA.

And while some in industry defended the FDA, they failed to note that Canada has placed a ban on plastic baby bottles containing BPA, U.S. states are considering legislation to limit use of BPA in food packaging, and some large children’s stores and other firms have banned the use of BPA in products they sell.

While those in industry and the FDA maintained their stance that BPA exposure is safe, scientific evidence continued to mount to the contrary.  For instance, last month, the Italian study published in the Environmental Research that revealed that maternal exposure to BPA decreased or eliminated the sex difference in certain behavioral responses found “exposure of female mice to BPA in both adulthood or during fetal life altered subsequent maternal behavior.”  Study authors included Palanza P. and colleagues from the University of Parma.

BPA has been linked to increased risk of diseases or disorders in the brain, reproductive system, and immune systems; recent studies have linked BPA exposure to diabetes, heart disease, problems with liver function testing, and interruptions in chemotherapy treatment; and BPA exposure has long been linked to hormonal disturbances.  BPA is commonly found in plastic baby bottles, food can linings, CD cases, eye glasses, dental sealants, and water bottles, to name some.

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