After reviewing the early findings of a new study, federal researchers indicate that the controversial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is likely safe for use in food products, indicating that exposure likely carries few side effects, despite years of independent studies that have raised concerns.
The pre-peer review draft of the BPA study was released by the National Toxicology Program for public comment. The study details the findings of a two year study examining the effects of BPA on health, focusing on growth, weight, and tumor development.
The FDA issued a statement about the study, indicating the findings conclude BPA is safe to be used in food products. However, the research also points to some side effects, which call for further research, including greater incidence of cancer in mice mammary glands.
BPA has gained widespread attention in recent years as prior studies have indicated it disrupts the endocrine glands and may cause widespread side effects, including increased risk of prostate cancer and disrupt the formation of the human brain.
Researchers evaluated available data and conducted research on the safety of BPA in food packaging. The study was conducted by the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research as part of larger collaborative program researching the toxicity of BPA. While the findings of the larger study are not available, the draft study offers a portion of that research.
Researchers exposed lab mice to BPA from early after they were born through pregnancy, then to their pups from birth until one to two years later. Doses varied from 2.5 to 25,000 mg/kg of body weight per day and were compared to a control group. Doses ranged from low, comparable to human exposure, to exceeding human exposure.
Animals were both dosed continuously throughout the study and administered stop-dose dosing. During stop-dosing, BPA was administered during pregnancy, then the pups were dosed until 21 days after birth when dosing was stopped completely. This was done to assess long-term effects from early exposure.
BPA Health Concerns
BPA is currently approved for use in plastic and epoxy resins, which are used in certain food and beverage can linings. However, concerns have been raised as to the role BPA poses in affecting a fetus during pregnancy. Studies have linked the chemical to increased risk of depression and higher likelihood of asthma and other breathing problems.
Because significant consumer interest has focused on BPA, the FDA considered and evaluated the scientific evidence available from the study. While the agency said the study found “minimal effects” for the BPA-dosed mice the study also raised concerns regarding other areas.
The study’s findings indicated significant effects, including higher incidence of mammary gland cancer in dosed female mice, higher rates of uterine polyps, an increase in endometrial hyperplasia (pre-cancerous cells), increased ovarian cysts, prolonged ovulation, and higher body weights.
A study published in 2014 found similar findings, linking BPA to increased risk of breast cancer. Most BPA studies indicate the chemical greatly affects endocrine functioning. However, even low levels of BPA may be harmful, both for the general population and during pregnancy, a number of studies have shown.
The FDA said these areas may need further research, but current levels of BPA in food products are safe for humans.
The study is open for public comment and will face external peer review April 26, 2018.