BPA, widely used to coat water bottles and metal food containers, has received a lot of attention the last several months as some expressed concern about possible ill health effects. The FDA’s long-held position, that the substance is safe at the low-levels at which humans are exposed to it, has been upheld by a new study appearing in the journal Toxicological Sciences.
BPA (Bisphenol A), a chemical component present in polycarbonate plastic used for beverage containers, is also used as a food can liner to form a barrier between the food and the can surface that prevents corrosion of the can and migration of metal into the food. BPA has been shown to mimic the female hormone estrogen, prompting concern about human health risks.
In this recent study, researchers exposed rats to BPA starting a few days after conception and continuing through sexual maturity. Doses ranged from about 70 times the amount that Americans typically get through their diet to millions of times that amount.
The conclusion? Even when rats got more than 70,000 times what a typical American ingests, there was no change in body weight, reproductive organs or hormone levels, the scientists reported. It was only when exposures were millions of times higher than what people typically get that the scientists saw changes like those caused by the body’s own sex hormones.
Dr. Bruce Chassy, Professor of Food Microbiology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois told Best Food Facts last summer, “… regulatory agencies around the globe have found it to be safe to consume in the small amounts currently present in our diets."
Chassy says nearly all chemicals that we routinely eat and drink would be toxic if consumed in high enough quantities.
“For example, vitamins A and D are both extremely toxic, toxic enough to kill, if we consume too much of them,” said Chassy. “It would be a fruitless endeavor to try to avoid anything that was toxic – there would be nothing we could eat or drink. If one wants to avoid toxic effects, the trick is to not consume harmful amounts of the thousands of potentially toxic chemicals to which we are exposed on a daily basis.”
Before we completely close the book on BPA, it should be pointed out a study appearing in the most recent issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association finds store receipts containing BPA can pass through the skin. One of the authors notes that the average person should not be alarmed by the findings, but cashiers and bank tellers who handle receipts throughout the day may want to take precautions - especially if they're pregnant or of child-bearing age.