The chemical bisphenol A, aka BPA, is poison pure and simple. It is used in plastic bottles and as an internal coating for canned drinks. BPA has been banned for many years in the manufacture of baby bottles and as an internal coating of baby formula packaging.
The big problem with BPA is that it builds up inside the body and even in minute quantities can disrupt the natural production of several hormones. It is implicated in increased risk for obesity in children, more likelihood of heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes in adults.
Now there is further research that adds to evidence from numerous previous studies, where measurable levels of the chemical in urine when correlated with the occurrences of many different illnesses. This latest data links BPA to increased risk of asthma. The evidence is in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and shows a 40% raised danger of the respiratory condition among inner city youngsters with high BPA content at 3, 5, and 7 years of age. Twenty five percent of the patients in the research program were identified as suffering from asthma.
The raised risk of asthma is not great but it still significant and coming on top of a previous study of pregnant women, begs the question why this chemical is not banned entirely? That study linked raised BPA levels in the bodies of pregnant women to an increased risk of their infants developing asthma as they grow. The newest report’s authors were surprised not to find BPA exposure in women before pregnancy and subsequent child asthma and admit that their study does not prove a causal link between BPA ingestion and asthma.
The researchers were scrupulous about controlling for other known asthma factors such as passive smoking, maternal asthma, and ethnicity, but did not control for two other factors known to increase the risks of asthma. Namely unbalanced diet and early age obesity. But even with these provisos the report’s authors say; “it’s unlikely that anything else would explain our results and that animal experiments where everything besides BPA exposure was controlled have yielded similar findings concerning asthma risks”.
So as the evidence against BPA builds what can concerned parents do to keep it out of their children’s diets. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommend not microwaving polycarbonate plastic containers because heat can cause BPA to migrate into foodstuffs. Look for the recycle codes, 3 or 7, they probably contain BPA. Cut down on tinned goods. Make glass, porcelain or stainless steel your containers of choice especially for hot food or drinks.
A study out of the University of Washington casts doubt on the usefullnes of these recommendations. The researchers studied ten families who did these things and actually had a marked rise in measured BPA levels due to it being in the milk and dried spices they ate, while control families saw no variation in BPA levels. The safest course would surely be government intervention.