RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Many concerned parents of young children feel more like chemists these days, trying to analyze and avoid chemicals of concern in everything from baby bottles and formula to toys and food. One chemical that’s gotten a lot of attention lately is bisphenol A, or BPA; at least one U.S. state has banned its use in infant bottles and food containers. But a new study suggests it’s unhelathy for adult women, too, not just babies.
THE DETAILS: Researchers looked at BPA levels in 259 men, 92 premenopausal women, and 134 postmenopausal women. They found that although all three groups had similar amounts of BPA in their systems, only in the postmenopausal women was there an association between BPA—which acts like estrogen in the body—and markers of oxidative stress and inflammation. Inflammation is linked to all sorts of chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s; oxidative stress is linked to aging and cancer. The study was published in the August edition of the journal Environmental Research.
WHAT IT MEANS: This study is the first to look at BPA and its inflammation and oxidative stress–causing properties in humans. Late last year, researchers with the National Toxicology Program weighed the risks of the controversial chemical used in polycarbonate (No. 7) and polyvinyl chloride (No. 3) plastics, as well as epoxy resins often used in canned food and drinks, and found it does raise some concern when fetuses, infants, and young children are exposed to the chemical. Specifically, the researchers found it could cause developmental changes in the prostate gland and brain, and affect sexual development. While babies and children are often exposed through baby bottles and canned baby formula, the chemical is found in many adult products, too, and this research adds to the evidence that it should be avoided.