Chemical in plastic risks the heart

British and US researchers studied the effects of the chemical Bisphenol A using data from a US government national nutrition survey in 2006 and found that high levels of it in urine samples were associated with heart disease.

Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is widely used in plastics and has been a growing concern for scientists in countries such as Britain and the United States, where food and drug regulators are examining its safety.

David Melzer, professor of epidemiology at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England, who led the study, said the research confirmed earlier findings of a link between BPA and heart problems.

The analysis also confirmed that BPA plays a role in diabetes and some forms of liver disease, said Melzer’s team, who studied data on 1,493 people aged 18 to 74. “Our latest analysis largely confirms the first analysis, and excludes the possibility that the original report was a statistical blip,” they said in a statement.

BPA, used to stiffen plastic bottles and line cans, belongs to a class of compounds sometimes called endocrine disruptors.

The US Endocrine Society called last June for better studies into BPA and presented research showing the chemical can affect the hearts of women and permanently damage the DNA of mice.

“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,” said Exeter’s Tamara Galloway.

US environmental health advocacy groups are urging a federal ban on BPA.
“There’s enough research to take definitive action on this chemical to reduce exposures in people and the environment,” Dr Anila Jacob of the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organisation, said in a telephone interview.

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