MAR 09, 2018 11:45 AM PST

FDA Declares BPA Safe, Sparking Concern Among Scientists

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

A chemical commonly found in the linings of food cans and plastics, bisphenol A or BPA, has raised many concerns over the past decade. There has been a considerable amount of study on the compound, which can leach out of plastics and into food, where it is then consumed by millions of people. BPA has been found to mimic the hormone estrogen, and has been connected to many adverse health effects, including but not limited to the development of some cancers and diabetes.

The safety of plastics is still a matter of debate. / Image credit: Pxhere

Because so many Americans are exposed to BPA, with some assessments finding it in 93% of urine samples that were assessed, there has been serious interest in determining how risky it could be. That process began around 2007, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found it to be acceptable for use in consumer products. When members of Congress dug into those findings, they revealed that industry studies had been used to prop up the claim that the chemical was harmless to consumers. The FDA had dismissed other, opposing results from peer-reviewed studies because they did not agree with the methodology that generated that data.

But evidence continued to pile up over the next few years that BPA did indeed cause harm. Subcommittees that addressed the FDA's findings found that they should reevaluate their conclusions. As of 2014, there were over 100 studies that had linked BPA to problems in human health.

In an effort to reconcile these disparate viewpoints, the FDA started a project, Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity or CLARITY-BPA. Both academic, hypothesis-based studies were to be considered along with typical safety testing procedures. 

Using rats as their model, scientists exposed animals to BPA both during gestation and after they were born. The researchers then assessed weight, growth, and tumor development in the animals, and found that BPA did not have a significant effect on any of those things, in rats. The variations that were observed were thought to be in what is considered a normal range, the scientists concluded. One group of rodents did have mammary gland tumors, however. These findings have also not been reviewed by other scientists.

The FDA plans to continue this work and potentially release a conclusion next year, although it this study is already being touted as evidence that BPA is fine to consume. 

The Endocrine Society has expressed concern. "It is premature to draw conclusions based on the release of one component of a two-part report," said Endocrine Society spokesperson Laura N. Vandenberg, Ph.D. "The National Toxicology Program draft report released Friday included the results of one government study with a partial data set and has yet to undergo peer review."

We may just be lucky that pressure from consumer groups has already led many manufacturers to stop using BPA.


Sources: FDA, NPR, Endocrine Society, Union of Concerned Scientists

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
DEC 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 17, 2019
A New Tool for Assessing the Impact of Drugs on Single Cells
When scientists assess the impact of a treatment like a drug on cells, they usually generally rely on large populations of cells to find general trends....
DEC 22, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 22, 2019
Functional Mini-Livers Made With New Bioprinting Technique
This technique, could be useful in the production of complete organs that can be transplanted into patients....
DEC 23, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 23, 2019
A New Type of Muscle Cell That Could be a Target for Gene Therapy is ID'ed
Muscles have a supply of restorative stem cells called satellite cells, and now they have identified a new type....
DEC 26, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 26, 2019
Learning More About How Mosquitoes Gain Resistance to Insecticides
When insecticides are used repeatedly over time to kill mosquitoes, they become less effective as the insects gain resistance to their impacts....
JAN 10, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 10, 2020
Making Bad Fat Turn Good
Researchers want to turn unhealthy white fat, which stores calories, to healthier brown or beige fat that burns calories....
FEB 24, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
FEB 24, 2020
How Brain Cells Can Protect Muscles
Protein buildup is not only a problem for the brain, it can also impair muscles....
Loading Comments...