FDA Slammed for Calling BPA Safe

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November 20, 2008 | 42,216 views

In a highly critical report, a panel of scientists from government and academia said when the FDA completed a draft risk assessment of bisphenol A (BPA) last month, they did not take into consideration numerous studies that have linked the chemical to prostate cancer, diabetes and other health problems.

The scientists took the FDA to task for basing its safety decision on three industry-funded studies.

The report was written by a subcommittee panel of the FDA's outside science board, experts who advise the FDA on complex issues. The panel concluded that the FDA’s margin of safety is “inadequate.”

The panel said the FDA also didn’t use enough infant formula samples and didn’t adequately account for variations among the samples.

Studies the FDA did not consider when making their assessment suggest that BPA could pose harm to children at levels at least 10 times lower than the amount the agency called safe. Another government agency, the National Toxicology Program, concluded that there is "some concern" that BPA alters development of the brain, prostate and behavior in children and fetuses. BPA has been detected in the urine of 95 percent of people tested, probably because it’s used so pervasively in everything from canned goods to plastic water bottles.

It is one of the world’s highest production-volume chemicals, which is alarming when you consider the problems it’s been linked to, including:

• Structural damage to your brain
• Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning
• Increased fat formation and risk of obesity
• Altered immune function
• Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, and ovarian dysfunction

• Changes in gender-specific behavior, and abnormal sexual behavior
• Stimulation of prostate cancer cells
• Increased prostate size, and decreased sperm production
• Diabetes
• Heart disease
• Liver damage

Yet, according to the FDA, the agency put into place to supposedly PROTECT you from toxic chemicals just like BPA, it’s perfectly safe.

How did they reach such an inane conclusion?

To the FDA, Ignorance is Bliss

To start, they ignored evidence, including studies that showed BPA harms children at levels up to 10 times lower than the FDA claims is safe. While turning their backs on these studies that showed evidence of harm, they put their full attention on three industry-funded studies.

The FDA based their decision of BPA safety on these three industry funded studies.

Why would they do this?

Isn’t it common knowledge, certainly among scientists, that industry-funded studies are much more likely to yield results that favor industry than studies by independent sources? Well, of course they know that, they just don’t care, because the FDA is being quite literally paid off by those very industries.

Perhaps you haven’t yet heard of Martin Philbert, but if you’re wondering why more steps aren’t being taken to get BPA off the market, then you should remember this name.

Martin Philbert is the acting director of the University of Michigan’s Risk Science Center, and also the chair of the FDA’s subcommittee that called BPA safe. According to the Washington Post:

“[Dr. Philbert] received a $5 million donation in July from Charles Gelman, the retired head of a medical device manufacturing company and an ardent defender of BPA. Mr. Gelman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which reported the story, that he discussed his views with Dr. Philbert. Dr. Philbert told us that he put the kibosh on any discussion of BPA with Mr. Gelman once the context of his interest became clear.”


Yet he still accepted the $5 million, then signed his name on an FDA report that claimed BPA is safe, based only on three industry-funded studies.

Let’s Review the Real Research

Even a quick review of some independent studies on BPA reveals its dangers.

It’s known, for instance, that BPA mimics the hormone estrogen, which can impact the development of fetuses and infants. The chemical has been linked not only to developmental and brain effects in infants, but also to other chronic health problems in adults.

In September, for instance, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study that found higher urinary BPA concentrations were associated with heart disease, liver problems and diabetes in adults.

Another study, published in the journal Endocrinology, found that pregnant mice exposed to levels of BPA similar to what a human would typically be exposed to had alterations to the development of their mammary glands.


• The mammary glands of their female offspring grew in a way that made them more susceptible to breast cancer development.

• The mammary glands responded unusually to estrogen, which promotes breast cancer in humans.

• Due to the bisphenol-A exposure, the mice were less able to get rid of damaged cells that could be cancerous than mice that were not exposed.

Meanwhile, there are no government safety standards limiting the amount of BPA in canned food, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safety standard is 25 times the dose NOW KNOWN to cause birth defects in lab studies. Their safety standard for BPA has not been updated for 20 years.

What’s Next? And How Can You Stay Safe in the Meantime?

At the end of October the FDA’s Science Board met to discuss the original risk assessment, the review that found its conclusions flawed, and to hear public comments about whether or not to ban BPA from food and beverage containers.

The board has forwarded their review to FDA chief Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, who has until February 2009 to respond.

In the meantime, you have the option to steer clear of this chemical right now, and I particularly urge you to do so if you are pregnant or have small children. Personally, I too am doing everything I can to avoid this menacing chemical. Glass is the safest and most inert way to store your water, and far better than ANY plastic.

To reduce your BPA exposure:

1.    Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby

2.    Get rid of your plastic dishes and cups, and replace them with glass varieties

3.    Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones

4.    Store your food and beverages in glass -- NOT plastic -- containers

5.    IF you choose to use a microwave, don’t microwave food in a plastic container

6.    Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel travel coffee mugs rather than plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups

7.    Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it)

8.    If you opt to use plastic kitchenware, at least get rid of the older, scratched-up varieties, avoid putting them in the dishwasher, and don’t wash them with harsh detergents, as these things can cause more chemicals to leach into your food

9.    Avoid using bottled water; filter your own using a reverse osmosis filter instead

10. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your, or your children’s, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA 

Please be aware that plastic containers marked with the recycling label No. 7 may contain BPA. Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA (however they may contain other unsavory chemicals that you’re best off avoiding by using glass instead).

For even more tips on how to minimize BPA in your life, read the first Related Article below, “Where to Find BPA-Free Products.”

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