Hormone experts worried about plastics, chemicals

Hormone experts worried about plastics, chemicals
Reuters| Maggie Fox | Hormone experts said on Wednesday they are becoming worried by a chemical called bisphenol A, which some politicians say they want taken out of products and which consumers are increasingly shunning.

They said they have gathered a growing body evidence to show the compound, also known as BPA, might damage human health. The Endocrine Society issued a scientific statement on Wednesday calling for better studies into its effects.

Studies presented at the group's annual meeting show BPA can affect the hearts of women, can permanently damage the DNA of mice, and appear to be pouring into the human body from a variety of unknown sources.

BPA, used to stiffen plastic bottles, line cans and make smooth paper receipts, belongs to a broad class of compounds called endocrine disruptors.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is examining their safety but there has not been much evidence to show that they are any threat to human health.

"We present evidence that endocrine disruptors do have effects on male and female development, prostate cancer, thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease," Dr. Robert Carey of the University of Virginia, who is president of the Endocrine Society, told a news conference.

The society issued a lengthy scientific statement about the chemicals in general that admits the evidence is not yet overwhelming, but is worrying.

Dr. Hugh Taylor of Yale University in Connecticut found evidence in mice that the compounds could affect unborn pups.

"We exposed some mice to bisphenol A and then we looked at their offspring," Taylor told the news conference.

"We found that even when a they had a brief exposure during pregnancy ... mice exposed to these chemicals as a fetus carried these changes throughout their lives."

The BPA did not directly change DNA through mutations, but rather through a process called epigenetics -- when chemicals attach to the DNA and change its function.

WIDESPREAD EXPOSURE

Taylor noted studies have shown that most people have some BPA in their blood, although the effects of these levels are not clear.

Dr. Frederick Vom Saal of the University of Missouri, who has long studied endocrine disruptors, said tests on monkeys showed the body quickly clears BPA -- which may at first sound reassuring.

But he said when tests show most people have high levels, this suggests they are being repeatedly exposed to BPA.

"We are really concerned that there is a very large amount of bisphenol A that must be coming from other sources," Vom Saal said.

Dr. Scott Belcher of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and colleagues will tell the meeting they found BPA could affect the heart cells of female mice, sending them into an uneven beating pattern called an arrhythmia.

"These effects are specific on the female heart. The male heart does not respond in this way and we understand why," Belcher said. He said BPA interacts with estrogen and said the findings may help explain why young women are more likely to die when they have a heart attack than men of the same age.

U.S. government toxicologists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences expressed concern last year that BPA may hurt development of the prostate and brain.

A 2008 study by British researchers linked high levels of BPA to heart disease, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities.

Article Source
CONSUMER TIPS TO AVOID BPA EXPOSURE

Although completely eliminating exposure to BPA may not be possible, there are steps you can take to reduce your family's exposure to this chemical.

Infant formula: All U.S. manufacturers use BPA-based lining on the metal portions of the formula containers. Tests of liquid formulas by FDA and EWG show that BPA leaches into the formula from all brands tested. Enfamil formula appears to have the highest concentrations of the 20 tests. EWG is concerned about BPA exposures for babies fed liquid formula. Choose powdered formula which may not have BPA in packaging and which is more diluted with water. If your baby needs liquid formula look for types sold in plastic or glass containers.

Our testing of canned foods found that BPA leaches from the liner into the food itself. Sensitive groups such as kids and pregnant women should limit canned food consumption. Beverages appear to contain less BPA residues, while canned pasta and soups contain the highest levels. Rinsing canned fruit or vegetables with water prior to heating and serving could lessen BPA ingestion.

Certain plastics called polycarbonates leach low levels of BPA into food or liquids. Leaching from plastic baby bottles and food containers appears to happen at a much lower level than found in canned foods and baby formula. Nevertheless it is good to take simple precautions.

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers often marked on the bottom with the letters "PC" recycling label #7. Not all #7 labeled products are polycarbonate but this is a reasonable guideline for a category of plastics to avoid. Polycarbonate plastics are rigid and transparent and used for sippy cups, baby bottles, food storage, and water bottles. Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as 'non-leaching' for minimizing plastic taste or odor, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids.

Safer products and uses: When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children's food. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA. Find baby bottles in glass versions, or those made from the safer plastics including polyamine, polypropylene and polyethylene. Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA. Bottles used to pump and store expressed breast milk by the brand Medela are also labeled BPA-free.

Many metal water bottles are lined with a plastic coating that contains BPA. Look for stainless steel bottles that do not have a plastic liner.

While the levels of BPA that leach from hard plastics is generally low, we recommend avoiding use of plastic containers to heat food in microwaves. Ceramic, glass, and other microwaveable dishware are good alternatives. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.

Article Source
You may also be interested in reading:
Gardasil Vaccines: Side Effects and Death
Wyeth's Use of Medical Ghostwriters Questioned
More Kids Are Taking More Meds Than Ever Before
Prescription Drugs Kill 300 Percent More Americans Than Illegal Drugs
Links Between Cholesterol Drug Vytorin and Cancer
Ban on Gifts to Doctors Sought
U.S. Lawmaker Questions FDA, Cites Industry Ties
Drugging Grade Schoolers With Statins
Allergy Drug Singulair Linked to Suicides
Contaminated Blood Thinner Causing Death
Deliberate Heparin Contamination
Toxic Tamiflu