Haven’t we heard this story before? The FDA is charged with regulating BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical found in plastic bottles, baby bottles, food cans, dental fillings, sealants, and cements. It knew that the government’s National Toxicology Program (another division of Health and Human Services) was about to issue a report and that Yale researchers had a study about to be published. So what did the FDA do? It rushed out a preliminary finding that BPA is safe and relied on two industry studies to reach this conclusion.
The Toxicology Program did weigh in and concluded that BPA might not be safe at all. The Yale researchers reported last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that small amounts of BPA in monkeys (similar to the amounts people are exposed to) cause brain, mood, and memory disorders.
Other important studies published earlier in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Ford, JAMA 2002, 287: 356-59) and in Diabetes Care (2004, 24: 2444-49) found that BPA “suppresses a key hormone in humans, adiponectin, which protects people from heart attacks and Type II diabetes.” In particular, BPA contributes to Metabolic Syndrome, which is the source of much of the chronic disease in the US. These studies were in addition to those which found potential harm to fetuses, infants, and children through BPA’s ability to mimic human estrogen and cause disruption of the endocrine system.
PBA is found in the urine of 93% of Americans. US companies make 7 billion pounds a year and it is just about everywhere. The FDA report considered the amount of BPA that humans might absorb from plastic bottles and cans but completely ignored the huge load that may be entering our bodies from dental fillings, sealants, and cements. Dentists routinely seal childrens’ teeth these days, often from infancy, and the sealant contains BPA.
The FDA is not popular in Congress these days and some Congressmen reacted sharply to these developments. Representative John Dingall (D-MI), the powerful chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stated that: “Unfortunately the regulatory agency charged with protecting the public health continues to rely on industry-based research to arrive at its conclusions, rather than examine the totality of scientific evidence.” Edward Markey (D-MA) added that:” …We should ban BPA in food and beverage containers.” To which we would add: and in dental products as well.
The FDA promises to hold hearings on Sept 16 and could yet reverse itself. Perhaps the Agency will ban BPA in baby bottles, like the Canadians, but then ignore what happens to the babies in the dentist’s chair.
Have you already signed the ReformFDA.org petition? If not, here is the link. Please sign today.