Plastic May Be to Blame for Illness
By TRISTAN NICHOLS Herald Reporter
Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School has linked a controversial chemical used in everyday plastic to diabetes and heart disease in adults.
The school has worked alongside colleagues at Exeter University and the University of Iowa to to pioneer the research linking Bisphenol A and the illnesses. Dr William Henley, from the University of Plymouth, was also on the team.
Their research paper was today due to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It is the first time evidence has emerged of the association between higher BPA levels and disease in adults.
BPA is a controversial chemical commonly used in food and drink containers.
It has previously caused concerns over health risks to babies, as it is present in some baby bottles.
Professor David Melzer, professor of epidemiology and public health at the Peninsula Medical School’s Exeter base who led the team, said: "Our study has revealed, for the first time, an association between raised BPA loads and two common diseases in adults.
"At the moment we can’t be absolutely sure that BPA is the direct cause of the extra cases of heart disease and diabetes: if it is, some cases of these serious conditions could be prevented by reducing BPA exposure.
"This is therefore an exciting finding, but it is also just the first step in understanding the role of BPA."
The scientists are also quick to point out that while this study has identified a statistical association between BPA and adult diseases, much more research is needed.
Future work needs to exclude the small possibility that the association is due to some other unstudied factor, or that people with these diseases somehow become more exposed to BPA.
Many previous studies in laboratory animals have suggested that BPA is safe, but some laboratory studies have raised doubts.
BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic products such as refillable drinks containers, compact disks, some plastic eating utensils and many other products in everyday use.
It is one of the world’s highest production volume chemicals, with over 2.2 million tonnes produced in 2003, with an annual growth in demand of between six and 10 per cent each year.
The research team analysed information from the US government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004, the only large-scale data available on BPA concentrations excreted in urine.
The research team analysed the results for the 1,455 adults aged between 18 and 74 years old for whom measures were available.
This study group is representative of the general population of the USA.
The analysis found that the 25 per cent of the population with the highest BPA levels were more than twice as likely to have heart disease and/or diabetes, compared to the 25 per cent with the lowest BPA levels.
Higher BPA levels were also associated with clinically abnormal liver enzyme concentrations.
(c) 2008 Plymouth Evening Herald, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.