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New study confirms bisphenol A link to heart disease

By Rory Harrington, 14-Jan-2010

More evidence linking bisphenol A (BPA) to heart disease has been found by a group of researchers in the UK.

A team from the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Exeter said analysis of new data from the United States demonstrates that “higher BPA exposure, reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, is consistently associated with reported heart disease in the general adult population of the USA”. The research was published in the journal PlosOne.

The results of the latest study carried out last year, re-confirm findings from a similar review undertaken the year before, said the group as it stated more research to “clarify the mechanisms of these associations” was urgently needed. Professor David Melzer, the academic leading the study, said the results confirmed the original findings were not a statistical anomaly.

BPA link to heart disease

Using data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2006- 2006 population study, researchers evaluated 1,493 people aged 18 to 74. They discovered that urinary concentrations of BPA had dropped by 30 per cent compared to previous results from 2003-04. However, they also found that higher BPA concentrations in urine were still associated with an increased prevalence of coronary heart disease in 2005-06.

"This is only the second analysis of BPA in a large human population sample,” said Melzer, professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at Exeter’s Peninsula Medical School. “It has allowed us to largely confirm our original analysis and exclude the possibility that our original findings were a statistical blip.”

Professor Tamara Galloway, professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter and senior author of the paper said more investigation was needed into the cause of the health risk associations to clarify whether they were caused by BPA itself or some other factors linked to BPA exposure.

“The risks associated with exposure to BPA may be small, but they are relevant to very large numbers of people. This information is important since it provides a great opportunity for intervention to reduce the risks," she added.

BPA is a chemical used in polycarbonate baby bottles and sippy cups, as well as in the expoxy lining s of food cans. Its continued inclusion in food packaging has provoked considerable consumer anxiety in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing its stance that the chemical poses no threat at existing acceptable levels. The agency was due to deliver its verdict by 30 November, 2009, but has yet to release its decision.

Lack of evidence

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the study lacked sufficient evidence.

“Studies of this type are very limited in what they tell us about potential impacts on human health,” said Steven G. Hentges, of the body’s Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group.

While they can provide helpful information on where to focus future research, by themselves they cannot and should not be used to demonstrate that a particular chemical can cause a particular effect."

He added: “The study itself does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between BPA exposure and heart disease. In addition, the robustness of these limited findings is questionable, as fewer than 50 participants self-reported health conditions without medical confirmation.”

David Melzer, Neil E. Rice, Ceri Lewis, William E. Henley, Tamara S. Galloway. Association of Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration with Heart Disease: Evidence from NHANES 2003/06. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (1): e8673 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008673