Bisphenol A is a polymer used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics. The very chemical process behind bisphenol A sounds scary as hell: It is prepared by condensation of acetone (alarm bell ringing already?) with carbolic acid (alarm bell ringing louder). Then the reaction is sped up with hydrochloric acid or a sulfonated polystyrene resin.
Do you really want any acetone, carbolic acid, or polystyrene in your baby’s bloodstream?
Bisphenol A was suspected of being hazardous to humans back in the 1930s when studies on rats had shown damage in ovaries and endometrium thickening.
Despite the concerns that BPA mimics estrogen and could trigger hormonal responses, chemical industry pumped up this polymer not only in baby bottles, cups, and cutlery, but also into breast pumps, toys, and thousands of household and medical supplies.
Today, recently science came up with firm understanding why Bisphenol A is harmful and even deadly to humans. More than 100 studies confirm that Bisphenol A has chronic toxicity when ingested by humans at very low doses.
Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor: it is an estrogen receptor agonist that can act like the body’s own hormones, leading to similar physiological effects on the body… Long term low dose exposure to bisphenol A may induce chronic toxicity in humans. (Wikipedia)
Fact #1. Bisphenol A causes developmental toxicity, carcinogenic effects, and possible neurotoxicity at low doses in animals.
There are more than 150 published studies that report significant effects of low doses of BPA in experimental animals, with many adverse effects occurring at blood levels in animals within and below average blood levels in humans.
Fact #2. Bisphenol A is linked to breast cancer
During studies on animals Chinese scientists found that bisphenol A increased estrogen receptors, levels of inerleukin, and tumor necrosis factor in females. Estrogens are a known component of hormone related cancers, including breast cancer. (Influence of Bisphenol A on developing rat estrogen receptors and some cytokines in rats: a two-generational study.Miao S, Gao Z, Kou Z, Xu G, Su C, Liu N. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health A. 2008;71(15):1000-8.)
Fact #3. Bisphenol A damages baby’s brain
A panel convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health determined that there was “some concern” about BPA’s effects on fetal and infant brain development and behavior. Psychiatrists from the VCU School of Medicine in Richmond found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as bisphenol A, can even cause mental diseases. “Sufficient information now exists for a comparison of the neurotoxicological and behavioral pathology associated with exposure to BPA and other endocrine disruptors to the abnormalities observed in schizophrenia,” Dr. James Brown, the Mental Health Clinic director at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond reported in January 2008 issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin.
Fact #4. Bisphenol A causes early puberty in girls
A 2008 draft report by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) concluded that “there is some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures,” and that there is “some concern for bisphenol A exposure in these populations based on effects in the prostate gland, mammary gland, and an earlier age for puberty in females.”
Fact #5. Bisphenol A is linked to obesity
Bisphenol A affects the formation of fat cells when combined with insulin. BPA increases body fat by speeding up the formation of fat cells and increasing the amount of them stored in the body. Could bisphenol A be one of the causes of the obesity epidemic in the US and other developed countries where mothers overuse plastic bottles?
Fact #6. Humans consume more bisphenol A than lab animals
In 2007, a consensus statement by 38 experts on bisphenol A concluded that average levels in people are above those that cause harm to animals in laboratory experiments. (“Chapel Hill bisphenol A expert panel consensus statement: integration of mechanisms, effects in animals and potential to impact human health at current levels of exposure.” Reproductive Toxicology 2007 Aug-Sep;24(2):131-8.)
Fact #7. Bisphenol A reacts with food
German scientists found that bisphenol A reacts differently with components of food, particularly aminoacids cysteine and methionine. In a July 2008 study they warn that after migration from the plastic into foodstuffs, bisphenol A “undergoes various reactions with unidentified food components” and ”the toxic or allergenic potential of the protein adducts are unknown.” (Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) migrating from packaging material ‘disappears’ in food: reaction with food components. Petersen H, Biereichel A, Burseg K, Simat TJ, Steinhart H. Food Addit Contam. 2008 Jul;25(7):911-20.)
Fact #8. Bisphenol A and vitamin C are a deadly combination
A small study in Turkey found that when animals were fed antioxidant vitamin C along with Bisphenol A in order to help them combat brain oxidative damage caused by bisphenol A, in fact, the effect was contrary. Animals who consumed vitamin C and BPA ended up with brains more severely damaged. So giving your baby orange juice in a BPA-containing bottle may not be such a good idea.
Fact #9 Bisphenol A leaches into baby bottles after heating in microwaves
During lab studies of polycarbonate baby bottles that were sterilized and washed in hot water, scientists found that “estimated infantile dietary exposure ranged between 0.2 and 2.2 microg per kg body weight per day.” The estimated Tolerable Daily Intake of bisphenol A is 50 microg per kg body weight per day. But this Tolerable Daily Intake was established for adults. Babies’ body organs are not developed well enough to deal with repeated doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Fact #9 99.9 percent baby bottles sold in the US and Canada contain Bisphenol A
Last time I checked, all baby bottles sold in Canadian and UK drugstore chains were made of #7 and #3 plastics that both contain Bisphenol A. Only some Babies R Us stores in the US carried glass bottles made by Evenflo. BPA-free bottles are only available online.
Fact #10. Health authorities don’t give a damn
Despite the hundreds of published studies that prove the long-term toxicity and carcinogenicity of bisphenol A even below the current reference dose of 50 microg/kg/day that is still assumed to be safe, the government maintains that BPA is perfectly safe.
“The extensive list of significant findings from government-funded studies is compared to the 11 published studies that were funded by the chemical industry, 100% of which conclude that BPA causes no significant effects,” biologists from the University of Missouri-Columbia stated in 2006. (Large effects from small exposures. II. The importance of positive controls in low-dose research on bisphenol A.vom Saal FS, Welshons WV. Environmenal Research. 2006 Jan;100(1):50-76.)
In plain English: Neither the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nor the International Agency for Research on Cancer has evaluated Bisphenol A for possible carcinogenic activity. Maybe they are sleeping with Bisphenol A manufacturers, who knows?
As an angry mom who did use some Avent and Tommy Tippee polycarbonate bottles and sterilized them in the microwave before making a complete switch to glass when my baby was two months old, I cannot stress this enough: AVOID PLASTIC BOTTLES by all costs. When using glass is impractical, opt for BPA-free plastic bottles made of polypropylene. Check if your breast pump says it’s BPA-free; if not, throw it away. Giving bisphenol A a boot must become your number one priority.