BPA can cause ‘fetal and hormonal imbalances in primates’ – study

BPA-lined Campbell soup can Source: Food Production Daily

Bisphenol A is shown to negatively affect fetal development in first primate study conducted using pregnant rhesus monkeys by University of  Missouri – Columbia researchers.  Yet, BPA is a commonly used chemical in the U.S..   According to this report published in Eureka Alert:

 COLUMBIA, Mo. – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a wide variety of consumer products, such as resins used to line metal food and beverage containers, thermal paper store receipts, and dental composites. BPA exhibits hormone-like properties, and exposure of fetuses, infants, children or adults to the chemical has been shown to cause numerous abnormalities, including cancer, as well as reproductive, immune and brain-behavior problems in rodents. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that daily exposure to very low concentrations of BPA by pregnant females also can cause fetal abnormalities in primates.

“BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical that has been demonstrated to alter signaling mechanisms involving estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormones,” said Frederick vom Saal, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU. “Previous studies in rodents have demonstrated that maternal exposure to very low doses of BPA can significantly alter fetal development, resulting in a variety of adverse outcomes in the fetus. Our study is one of the first to show this also happens in primates.”

Although BPA is considered a toxic chemical in other countries such as Canada, the U.S. has been slow to address the issue, said vom Saal. Until now, most studies involving BPA have been conducted on laboratory mice and rats, leading U.S. regulatory agencies to call for studies in primates. With funding provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a research institute of the National Institutes of Health, vom Saal and his colleagues studied the chemical’s blood levels in pregnant female rhesus monkeys and their fetuses, which are considered to be very similar to human fetuses.

After collecting tissue samples, other researchers analyzed the tissues to determine if BPA exposure was harmful to fetal development. Researchers found evidence of significant adverse effects in mammary glands, ovaries, brain, uterus, lung and heart tissues in BPA exposed fetus when compared to fetuses not exposed to BPA. The abnormalities were caused by levels of BPA in the monkey fetuses that were very similar to levels reported in previous studies of BPA in human fetuses.

Click here to read more about this U of Missouri study, published in Reproductive Toxicology.

According to the FDA, extensive research has been done and has found BPA to be safe at low levels.  Note that the dosage that was given to the rhesus monkeys was ‘very low’.  The FDA has published this statement on their website concerning the safety of BPA:

FDA acknowledges the interest that many consumers have in BPA. FDA has performed extensive research and reviewed hundreds of studies about BPA’s safety. We reassure consumers that current approved uses of BPA in food containers and packaging are safe. Additional research is underway to enhance our understanding of BPA. FDA will take these studies into account as it continues to ensure the safe use of BPA in food packaging.

The last paragraph of the FDA’s, “Questions & Answers on Bisphenol A (BPA) states:

Is BPA safe?

Yes. Based on FDA’s ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging. People are exposed to low levels of BPA because, like many packaging components, very small amounts of BPA may migrate from the food packaging into foods or beverages.

Perhaps FDA could include this latest study funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showing definite adverse effects on fetal development in primates exposed to BPA.  But a study reported in 2010 in the Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology found that BPA has little or no effect on monkeys that were exposed to it, as this chemical is quickly eliminated from the body.  Or, is it?

Science 2.0 has published an article stating, as the FDA has that BPA is safe for human consumption and concluding:

The FDA/NTP research program continues with several important studies now underway.  As a follow-up to the subchronic study just published, FDA is now conducting a chronic study that examines five low doses of BPA with exposure starting in pregnancy and continuing for approximately two years. Similar to the pharmacokinetic studies conducted in laboratory animals by FDA, NTP is now conducting pharmacokinetic studies on human volunteers.

These studies will provide important information to bring closure to the ongoing controversy about the safety of BPA.

For the time being though, the extensive data published so far provides strong support for FDA’s current perspective:  “Is BPA safe? Yes.”

I’m glad to know that this BPA study will be conducted on humans who have volunteered, although it would seem that humans have already been unwittingly volunteered for widespread chemical exposure like that of BPA through the modern American, industrialized food system.  Meanwhile, I’m glad to see that Campbell soup has pledged to take BPA out of soup cans, maybe even as soon as 2015.


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