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A variety of polycarbonate bottles, including the popular Nalgene shatter-free bottles contain the chemical bisphenol A. In sufficient quanitities the chemical is believed to disrupt hormones, but the FDA concludes in an early report that the levels in plastics are low enough not to be harmful.
FDA continues its insistence that the plastic is safe, says its studies on mice more accurate than recent human study

Last month, DailyTech reported that in a preliminary review, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had declared the plastic Nalgene safe.  While Nalgene and other products contain the hardening agent bisphenol A (BPA), a known disruptive agent of human physiology, the FDA concluded that sufficient quantities of the chemical did not leach into the liquids stored inside the bottles to cause harm.  Critics blasted the ruling, pointing out that studies have indicated that small, but significant quantities did leach into the water.

Now the first major study on the effects of bisphenol A has been completed and it indicates a clear link between the compound and diabetes and heart disease.  In the study, researchers from Britain and the University of Iowa examined a U.S. government health survey of 1,455 adults who had given urine samples.  The adults were then split into different groups based on the levels of BPA found in their urine.  All the adults were within the "safe" levels of BPA, according to the FDA's standards.

The study discovered that in the highest BPA group there were more than twice as many people with diabetes and heart disease.  No correlation between BPA and cancer was shown.

While the study certainly seems to indicate a clear link between BPA and these diseases, it raises a chicken and egg sort of debate.  If the findings hold true in additional tests, there are two possibilities.  One possibility is that the disease came first and somehow raised the body’s absorption of BPA.  The other possibility is that the BPA came first and somehow interact with the patients' bodies, putting them at higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Despite the fact that the largest study to date now suggests a link between "safe" BPA levels and disease, the FDA is refusing to change its stance.  In a scientific review the FDA declared that BPA is "safe" within suggested guidelines.  Laura Tarantino, head of the FDA's office of food additive safety, states, "Right now, our tentative conclusion is that it's safe, so we're not recommending any change in habits."

Tarantino says that if customers want to voluntarily avoid the chemical; that is their decision.  She says that bottles bearing the recycling symbol 7 are BPA-containing, and that heating food in these containers helps to release the BPA.

Ms. Tarantino and the FDA also argued that the agency's own studies on mice were more thorough and extensive than the recent human study.  The American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group, agreed and was quick to blast the study, saying it was flawed, substantially limited, and "proved nothing".

Several states are restricting BPA use, and there is legislation that may soon ban BPA use in baby bottles in Canada.  On a national level in the U.S. and in the European Union, the government food and health agencies have suggested that the compound is safe.  The FDA has acknowledged in the past that its own studies indicate "some concern" of the possible effects of BPA exposure on the brain in fetuses, infants and children.  BPA is commonly used in baby bottles in the U.S. and EU.

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RE: I think its BS
By masher2 on 9/17/2008 4:51:46 PM , Rating: 2
> "The dosage is the key element in both arguments"

That's exactly the point. The dosages of both nickel and Bisphenol A are too small to cause alarm. As are the dosags of millions of other carcinogenic and teratogenic chemicals we consume on a daily basis.

There's over 600 different chemical compounds in a cup of coffee. Roughly half will cause cancer in a large enough dose. Does that mean we should ban the drink?

> "Your argument (to me) is not much different than bananas have potassium and potassium will eat right through your skin."

There is no metallic potassium whatsoever in bananas. You've confused an element with a compound. Potassium salts do not "eat through your skin".

RE: I think its BS
By guy007 on 9/17/2008 5:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
No. The point you are missing is that YOU say the levels ofBPA are too small to cause damage. We KNOW that the levels released in the stainless steel cup are too small to be harmful.

So on the one hand I have a scientific fact that the levels in stainless steel are safe. On the other hand I have MASHER who we know to be hugely biased for the oil/petroleum industry telling us one of the end products of petroleum refinment is safe. This is pretty much like a representitive of the cell phone industry telling me cell phones are safe. They MIGHT be but I surely wont be taking their word for it.

BPA in these levels MAY be safe but im def. not gonna be taking MASHERS word for it.

RE: I think its BS
By masher2 on 9/17/2008 6:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
> "We KNOW that the levels released in the stainless steel cup are too small to be harmful"

No. We know absolutely very little for sure in epidemiology. Furthermore, some individuals are so sensitive to nickel as to preclude their use of any nickel products, including the use of nickel-containing cookware or the wearing of watches or jewelry with nickel in them.

> "On the other hand I have MASHER who we know to be hugely biased for the oil/petroleum industry telling us one of the end products of petroleum refinment is safe"

You have the FDA, the American Chemical Society, and the results of over a dozen studies of direct biological testing of the effects of BPA all saying the same thing.

On the other hand, you have a study with no direct testing at all, but merely suggests a weak statistical correlation that may or may not even exist and, even if it does, most likely indicates something other than a causal relationship.

Right off the top, there's a 5% chance the results are nothing but an accident of statistics, with nothing being seen here but random chance. Ignoring that, we have several other problems. First is that BPA is flushed from the body fairly quickly. Diabetes and heart disease take years to develop. The BPA being measured therefore couldn't possibly have caused these illnesses.

To get a causal link, one has to hypothesize the individuals with high BPA levels had habits that exposed them to BPA for years or decades. Those very habits, however, are more likely the cause of the health problems. A person with high BPA levels eats and drinks more from plastic bottles and canned (the cans contain a plastic lining) foods, rather than a healthier diet containing mostly fresh and frozen foods. We know diet is a major key for triggering diabetes and heart problems.

Furthermore, we know both those conditions can and do lead to elevated levels of various chemical compounds in the body. Meaning the causal link, if it exists, could very well simply be in reverse. The health problems trigger the BPA levels, rather than vice versa.

There are a few other problems, but suffice it to say, a weak statistical correlation from a single small study does **not** override years of live biological testing.

RE: I think its BS
By superkdogg on 9/17/2008 6:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure in the 50's and 60's there were some dubious studies that said smoking might be dangerous or seatbelts might be safe.

The fact that an imperfect study shows a tenuous corellation doesn't make the conclusion false.

I do give you credit for calling me on the potassium salts-by the same token, wouldn't most nickel that comes off stainless steel also be a compound-nickel oxide would be my guess since there would need to be some reaction with a volatile element that is catalyzed by the heat of cooking or by an acid in order to release it?

I also agree with you FIT that you can buy what you like and I'll by what I like. I'm not unreasonable like that. If you get diabetes or I have renal failure, it is true that we all put our lives in more danger every day by driving and even walking on staircases than either nalgene or stainless injects into our lives.

That being said, if BPA might cause cancer and does come from nalgene, I'll take my chances with my nickel-plated steel or plain old glass which is just as good except for that indestructible part.

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