New research has linked low dose exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) with a threefold increase in combined benign breast tumors and breast cancer in lab rats.
The two-year study, a research collaboration called CLARITY-BPA, was coordinated by the interagency National Toxicology Program (NTP), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the FDA with a goal of studying the range of potential health effects from BPA exposure. In addition to the links to breast cancer, the researchers also found significant effects on the heart and reproductive system.
Despite the study’s findings, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, Stephen Ofstroff, MD, issued a statement in February asserting that the study showed “minimal” health hazards linked to BPA, a chemical commonly found in certain types of plastics such as the liners of soda cans. A recent JAMA article criticized these conclusions as “premature.”
“I’m speechless that the regulators can maintain a perspective about their own science that is devoid of the rest of modern science and what we know,” endocrinologist Thomas Zoeller, PhD, the principal investigator on a CLARITY-BPA study of thyroid and brain anatomy end points, told JAMA.
“This has been the FDA’s posture for more than a decade,” writes the Environmental Working Group in a press release. “Defending the safety of BPA exposures while independent scientists report BPA is toxic to the brain, thyroid and reproductive systems.”
Final conclusions from the study are expected in August 2019.
Researchers have published a number of peer-reviewed studies on the dangers of BPA, including a 2017 study from North Carolina State University whose findings appear to link prenatal BPA exposure with depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity. BPA has also been linked to reproductive conditions, metabolic disease, and behavioral problems; the United States’ President’s Cancer Panel concluded in 2010 that “more than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity, and other health problems.”
Despite its stance on the safety of BPA, the FDA banned the substance in baby bottles and children’s cups in 2012 and in infant formula cans in 2013. The Agency noted at the time that this decision was not linked to safety concerns but was rather a response to a request from the American Chemistry Council, made in order to boost consumer confidence.
Individual companies have made attempts to reduce BPA in their products in recent years; Trader Joe's, for example, removed the chemical from its register receipts earlier this year. The EPA found last year, however, that despite the use of BPA in the United States falling 30 percent since 2015, nearly 40 percent of canned goods purchased at grocery stores in eleven different states tested positive for the chemical.
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