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Gina Solomon’s Blog

BPA and Heart Disease: New Scientific Data and New Reasons for Action

Gina Solomon

Posted January 12, 2010 in Health and the Environment

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Check out the new research published today on bisphenol A (BPA) and heart disease. This study adds a key new confirmatory piece of evidence to the disturbing picture of BPA's hazards.

The researchers analyzed the most recent data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention's major research study on health and nutrition in the United States. Nearly 1,500 adults aged 18-74 years participated in this study. Urine residues of BPA were used as a marker of exposure, and the researchers looked at reported diagnoses of heart attack, coronary heart disease, angina, and diabetes. There was a statistically significant association between higher levels of BPA in urine and higher likelihood of having heart disease. The link between BPA and heart disease was reported once before and was dismissed by some people as potentially a statistical fluke, but this study confirms that the link is likely to be real.

BPA already has a long rap list: It is an endocrine disruptor, causes abnormalities in breast development and reproductive development in lab animals, and has been associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even obesity in humans. That's why NRDC and other health organizations have been pushing for companies to take this chemical out of their products and for the government to ban or control exposure to this substance.

This new information, however, is a bombshell. You see, heart disease is the number one killer in many countries. According to the CDC, heart disease causes more than one out every four deaths in the United States. CDC also stated that in 2009, heart disease cost the United States an estimated $304.6 billion in health care costs. So if BPA accounts for even a small portion of the epidemic of heart disease, it is an enormous public health problem. In fact, health care reform should be linked directly to toxic chemical reform. Chemicals such as BPA are a potentially preventible cause of serious illness, and prevention saves lives and dollars.

There's also good news in this new study. The levels of BPA in the urine of the U.S. population have decreased by about one-third since the last survey in 2003-2004. I think this decrease is because the public has woken up to what the science is showing. People are avoiding sources of BPA, and some companies are getting the message and removing this chemical from their products. But BPA was still detected in over 90% of the U.S. population, and this new study shows that the levels are still too high. Meanwhile, as my colleague Dr. Sarah Janssen has reported, the manufacturers have been scheming about how to "protect their product", so the fight for our health isn't over. We're still waiting for the FDA to make their decision about whether to act to reduce BPA residues in food. Let's hope our hearts don't have to wait too much longer.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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