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Why Hasn’t Bisphenol A (BPA) Been Banned Completely?

“The number of new chemicals is increasing exponentially, with approximately 12,000 new substances added daily…”—yet data aren’t available on the hazards of even some of the high-volume chemicals. Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the highest volume chemicals, with billions of pounds produced each year. Studies have raised concerns about its possible implication in the cause of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, reproductive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, and breast cancer. Given this, BPA is the topic of my video Why BPA Hasn’t Been Banned.

A new study on the health implications of BPA comes out nearly every week. BPA was first developed over a hundred years ago as a synthetic estrogen, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that industry realized it could be used to make polycarbonate plastic, and “BPA rapidly became one of the most produced and used chemicals worldwide, even though it was a recognized synthetic estrogen” with hormonal effects. About a billion pounds are also used to line food and beverage cans, especially for tuna and condensed soups.

Today, nearly all of us, including our children, have BPA in our bodies, but not to worry: The government says up to 50 µg/kg per day is safe. Even those working in Chinese BPA factories don’t get exposed to more than 70 times lower than that so-called safety limit. Why then did exposure seem to affect male workers’ sperm counts? In the United States, the general population gets less than a thousand times lower than the safety limit, yet, even at those incredibly low doses, we still seem to be seeing adverse effects on thyroid function, weight control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular disease, liver function, and immune function. Indeed, “[t]he fact that there are significant adverse effects in populations exposed to BPA at concentrations [thousands of] times lower than the TDI [tolerable daily limit]…indicates that the safe exposure to BPA may be much lower than previously thought in humans.” Despite this, the limit hasn’t been changed. BPA has been banned from “baby bottles and sippy cups,” but nearly unlimited doses are still apparently okay for everyone else. What’s the disconnect?

It has to do with the fascinating world of low-dose effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals. “For decades, studies of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have challenged traditional concepts in toxicology, in particular the dogma of ‘the dose makes the poison’”—that is, the concept “that lower exposures to a hazardous compound will therefore always generate lower risks.” Indeed, that is the core assumption underlying our system of chemical safety testing. Researchers start giving animals in laboratories a super-high dose and then keep lowering the dosage until whatever adverse effects that had occurred disappear. Then, they add a safety buffer and assume everything below that dose should be okay, assuming a straight line showing the higher the dose, the higher the effect. However, hormone-disrupting chemicals can have all sorts of curious curves. How is it possible that something could have more of an effect at a lower dose?

A study was done to see whether BPA suppressed an obesity-protective hormone in fat samples taken from breast reduction and tummy tuck patients. At 100 nanomoles of BPA, hormone levels were no lower than they were at 0nM of BPA. And, since most people have levels between 1 and 20, BPA was considered to be safe. But, although there was no suppression at 0 and no suppression at 100, at the levels actually found in people’s bodies, BPA appeared to cut hormone release nearly in half.

As the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones concluded, “even infinitesimally low levels of exposure—indeed, any level of exposure at all—may cause [problems].” In fact, it may come to nearly $3 billion in problems every year, counting the estimated effects of BPA on childhood obesity and heart disease alone. There are alternatives the industry can use. The problem, though, is that they may cost companies two cents more.


Related videos about BPA include BPA on Receipts: Getting Under Our Skin and Are the BPA-Free Alternatives Safe?

 BPA isn’t the only problem with canned tuna. Check out:

What can we do to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals? See, for example, Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates and How to Avoid the Obesity-Related Plastic Chemical BPA.

Alkylphenols are another group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. To learn more about them, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


40 responses to “Why Hasn’t Bisphenol A (BPA) Been Banned Completely?

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  1. Seems like the two cents is symbolically perfect.

    My 2 cents about Dr. Greger’s 2 cents about them rejecting the 2 cents from studies to save 2 cents.

    1. Barb,

      Thanks for the links.
      6
      The rate of heart attacks reduced by 66%, heart failure by 58%, strokes by 51% and death from cardiovascular disease by 44%

      When Dr. Greger did his stroke topic, I had looked up strokes and they talked about how ischemic strokes tend to happen either while people are sleeping or first thing in the morning, when the blood pressure is the highest. There are specific hours where your blood pressure is most likely to be higher. I think it was 6 to 8 in the morning and 6 to 8 at night, but the night strokes are more likely to be hemorrhagic and sleeping and morning strokes are more likely to be ischemic.

      Someone had said that drinking a glass of water before bed thinned the blood or taking the low dose aspirin around that time, but all I could think about was getting up all night to pee.

      Hemorrhagic stroke happens later in the day but that is related to blood pressure, too. It seems like having a water drinking schedule to lower the blood pressure toward 6 to 8 at night to prevent the Hemorrhagic stroke makes sense. Or doing something like meditation at night.

      Or just not watching the news.

      I wonder how many hemorrhagic strokes happen right after watching the news?

    2. As this USA Today article says, most heart attacks occur while one is sleeping:

      “The reasons for this, according to some experts, is that taking blood pressure medication at bedtime reduces blood pressure levels during sleeping hours, when most heart attacks and cardiovascular events occur.”

      I’m trying to reconcile this with the advice of the ‘Gambler” in the old Kenny Rogers song where he says :

      ” … the best that we can hope for is to die in our sleep!”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hx4gdlfamo

      Sounds like a philosophical conundrum to me ;-)

      Just kidding, of course, but that article did bring back memories of the old Gambler song.

      1. Hal,

        I think the song might be comparing dying of a heart attack in our sleep to getting shot.

        Our company acquired a building after our landlord was shot during a small money poker game.

        That was decades before the casinos came.

        1. Deb, Yes, you are correct! He’s definitely comparing it to a shoot out at the gambling table!

          And according to the song, sounds like he’s a smoker & drinker, too.

          That song does have some interesting philosophical concepts in it. “Gotta know when to hold and when to fold, when to walk away and when to run!”

          That’s interesting that your landlord was actually shot in a poker game. Didn’t think that happened much anymore.

          1. Yeah, there has been a shift away from cowboys, Okay Corral, and Deadwood type stories to Natural Born Killer, Serial Killer, and Spree Killer type fantasies.

            It is a different archetype.

            Guns are still used in jealousy killings and suicides and murder/suicides, but for people to get mad playing poker, they have to be in someone’s home rather than a casino and that doesn’t happen much anymore.

    3. * sorry, I meant to say, I find it difficult to remember to take my pills at night since I have been taking them in the mornings for so long. Plus, waking in the middle of the night to take synthroid is a nuisance. I will have to fine tune this new regime.

      Hal, yes, I figure it’s useful info whichever way we want to play it.

      1. Barb,

        You are right.

        It is very useful.

        Knowing what times the risks come, it seems like people can adjust many things to help lower their blood pressure. Breathing techniques lower blood pressure. Deep breathing techniques before bed and in the morning and after dinner might be a way to lower blood pressure during the high-risk hours.

      2. Why would you wake in the middle of the night to take synthroid? I take it at 7 a.m….. I don’t know if it’s psychological or not, but I feel energized within fifteen minutes.

        1. WFPBLiisa, I had set my alarm for 5am to take synthroid so I could have my coffee with soy milk at 6. (not supposed to eat/drink 2 hours before, or an hour after) However, some nights sleep is hard to come by, and other times I wake just after 4am anticipating the alarm. I go to bed early at night. Taking the other meds at night is helping with sleep so far. Synthroid does nothing for me re feeling energized.

          1. Hi, Barb, I don’t eat before mine either and wait an hour before eating breakfast.
            It takes me an hour to feed dogs and cats, provide meds to them, lay out my husband’s pills and breakfast items, put dishes away that ran in the washer the night before, and other “kitchen” duties to include cooking my oatmeal so that it’s ready at 8. It works well for me. I’m sorry you have to take your synthroid at 4 a.m.!!!

            1. Your schedule sounds like a good one Liisa, and I’m sure I can do something similar, ie walk the dogs, shower etc. One hour goes by pretty fast!

    4. It is more likely that the blood pressure meds do less harm taken when the body has time to process out the poison while it is prone than early in the day when other demands are being made on it.

  2. I am wondering the mechanism of the whole thing.

    I mean, why aren’t people dying after a stressful day at work? Or during the serial killer driven television shows?

    Why while sleeping or after a “good night’s rest”????

    And, does being an insomniac lower my risk of heart attack?

    Does sleeping with your head elevated or some zero gravity position change the odds?

    Boy, I am so curious.

    1. Night time sleeplessness INCREASES our risk for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, alzheimers and inflammatory conditions. We need our sleep! It’s so very important. It’s part of the reason why I changed my med to night time schedule.

      https://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2012/07/26/shift-work-linked-increased-risk-heart-attack-and-stroke

      https://www.chronobiology.com/shift-work-cause-heart-disease/

      https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20120726/heart-attack-stroke-more-common-in-shift-workers

      1. Barb,

        Yes, I am aware of that.

        It doesn’t help me actually get sleep, but I am aware of it.

        They talked about shift workers struggling to figure out when to eat, also and eating too close to sleeping and not eating breakfast are both things which increase the risks.

        1. Hal,

          Pistachios also lower blood pressure, and lowering blood pressure lowers the risk of stroke.

          A lot of my friends take Magnesium at bedtime. I sometimes buy mineral water (without added sodium) it didn’t help my sleep but I had a sense that my minerals were topped off.

          https://www.nyheadache.com/blog/magnesium-reduces-the-size-of-hemorrhagic-strokes/

          This one is about Magnesium or Potassium deficiency and stroke

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6399342

    2. Nathan Pritikin was sceptical that stress was a major cause of heart attacks noting that in wartime in occupied Europe (an extremely stressful time for huge numbers of people), heart attack rates declined substantially.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT8K6NcAigo&t=2196s

      But perhaps this is just another case where the English language leads us astray. Psychological stress is only one form of stress even though that’s the only meaning it seems to have these days in popular parlance.. Physical stress from extreme exertion (how many people did shovelling snow each year?) and possibly more importantly dietary stress from eating the wrong foods are conceivably much more powerful causes

    3. Animals crawls way into safe holes to die. A body that knows it is terminal takes the opportunity to shut down in the least immediately threatening environment.

    1. Some commentators have suggested that skipping breakfast is associated with various unhealthy lifestyle factors or health conditions, such as morning hangovers, overeating at night, poor appetite etc. In other words, the association between missing breakfast and CVD risk may not be causal and could be confounded by other uncontrolled factors.

      That said, Dr Greger certainly seems to think skipping breakfast is a bad idea.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q1Jc5euOoo

  3. Hi..I have a question and this is the only place I can see to ask it…. if you get your daily intake of kale and spinach in a morning smoothie, is the fiber level still the same as eating it in a salad? I’m sorry if this seems like a dumb question, but I truly don’t know…thanks in advance.

    1. Hi, Sandi! The fiber in the smoothie is physically disrupted, while the fiber in the salad is intact, but either way the amount does not change; it remains the same. Sipping your smoothie slowly will help to make it more satiating, like if you were to chew a salad (https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/11/23/sip-smoothies-slowly/). Smoothies containing ingredients such as leafy greens, berries, mangoes, and bananas can help keep sugar absorption at a normal level to deliver the best of both worlds: maximum nutrient absorption without risking overly rapid sugar absorption (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/flashback-friday-green-smoothies-what-does-the-science-say/). As Dr. Greger says, the best way to get your greens is in whichever way you’ll eat the most of them (https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/smoothies/). Smoothies can be very helpful for packing in lots of fruits and vegetables.

  4. Shouldn’t people boycott all foods packaged in plastic? I call up mfrs and ask them to change. Maybe if everybody else did, they would listen.

  5. Sydney, what can we do about buying food in bulk bins? There are rolls of plastic bags there to use, but what realistic alternatives are there? I wouldn’t mind paper bags, but no stores here use them, even at the checkouts.

    I mostly buy produce, and limited frozen fruit, but even there plastic bags are used (i reuse them).

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