Bisphenol A danger, side effects, adverse events, cancer and fertility problems
Influence on diabetes, heart disease, risk for health problems

June 3 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Bisphenol A is a key building block of polycarbonate, which is a lightweight, high-performance plastic with many practical uses. It is one of the top 100 produced chemicals in the world. Bispenol A is a common chemical used in everyday products such as plastic drink containers and baby bottles, and present in some canned foods. Government studies have shown that more than 90 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.


Chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan (TCS), used in a wide variety of consumer products, are suspected endocrine (hormone) disrupters although their level of toxicity is thought to be low.


How to reduce exposure and lower levels
Those who give up canned foods and food and beverages prepared and packaged using plastic containers and instead eat freshly prepared, organic foods, will reduce their levels.


People who work a cash register all day are most likely absorbing a potentially toxic chemical from the receipts they handle. Thermal receipt paper contains bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to prevent the color on paper from running or bleeding. University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Feb. 26, 2014, Journal of the American Medical Association.


Q. My question is about Bisphenol-a in paper products. Since it's ubiquitous in just about all paper products, I was wondering if there is any danger in touching paper constantly such as when reading a book or handling money. I've heard money and receipts can have very high levels. With the high levels on money and receipts, is cross contamination possible? For instance, if an individual touches money or receipts and then immediately touches and uses his or her phone, does the BPA now transfer onto the phone in high levels? Should the hands and phone both be washed? What about if a receipt touches a table or a book or some other item, should the item be washed to prevent further spread of the BPA? How would one go about this? Just using a sponge and water, or is soap necessary? If the BPA isn't bound to anything, would water alone wash it off hands and tables or other objects it comes in contact with, or is soap necessary?
   A. It is possible that tiny amounts may be absorbed, but for practical reasons it is best not to worry about all the minute pollutants that we are constantly exposed to from everywhere, otherwise the anxiety itself will cause more harm and reduce our quality of life than the actual harm from the small amounts of toxins and pollutants we are constantly exposed to from variety of sources.

Safe daily limit? Safety
Federal guidelines currently put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on a handful of experiments done in the 1980s rather than hundreds of more recent animal and laboratory studies indicating that serious health risks could result from much lower doses. Side effects, such as abnormal reproductive development may occur at exposures of as low of 2.4 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day, a dose that could be reached by a child eating one or a few servings daily or an adult daily diet that includes multiple servings of canned foods containing BPA.

Clear plastic water bottles may leak bisphenol A. There is controversy regarding the safety of bisphenol A. The manufacturers claim that bisphenol A has been thoroughly studied and is safe, whereas critics say bisphenol A may have estrogen like activity and may cause increased insulin release.


Canned foods that contain this chemical
2009 - Consumer Reports tested canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, and found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain measurable levels of BPA.


Brain damage
Low doses of the chemical BPA, widely used to make plastic food and drinking containers, can impair brain function in primates.


Bisphenol A and diabetes, heart disease
BPA may increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease.


DNA damage
Toxicol Sci. January 2014. Metabolomic Analysis Reveals Metabolic Changes Caused By Bisphenol A in Rats. Sprague-Dawley rats were orally administrated BPA at the levels of 0, 0.5 μg/kg/d and 50 mg/kg/d covering a low dose and a reference dose for 8 weeks. We conducted a capillary electrophoresis in tandem with electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry based nontargeted metabolomic analysis using rat urine. To verify the metabolic alteration at both low and high doses, RT-PCR and western blotting were further conducted to analyze hepatic expression of methionine adenosyltransferase Iα (Mat1a) and methionine adenosyltransferase IIα (Mat2a). Hepatic S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) was also analyzed. A total of 199 metabolites were profiled. Statistical analysis and pathway mapping indicated that the most significant metabolic perturbations induced by BPA were the increased biotin and riboflavin excretion, increased synthesis of methylated products, elevated purine nucleotide catabolism, and increased flux through the choline metabolism pathway. We found significantly higher mRNA and protein levels of Mat1a and Mat2a, and significantly higher SAMe levels in rat liver at both low and high doses. These two genes encode critical isoenzymes which catalyze the formation of SAMe, the principal biological methyl donor involved in the choline metabolism. In conclusion, an elevated choline metabolism is underlying the mechanism of highly methylated environment and related metabolic alterations caused by BPA. The data of BPA-elevated accepted biomarkers of injury indicate that BPA induces DNA methylation damage and broad protein degradation, and the increased deleterious metabolites in choline pathway may also be involved in the toxicity of BPA.


BPA can damage the DNA of mice, and appears to be pouring into the human body from a variety of unknown sources. BPA, used to stiffen plastic bottles, line cans and make smooth paper receipts, belongs to a broad class of compounds called endocrine disruptors.


It could possibly disrupt a woman's reproductive system and lead to chromosome damage in eggs, miscarriages and birth defects.

Exposure in pregnancy to a chemical commonly found in plastics and cans -- known as bisphenol A, or BPA -- may increase a child's risk of breathing problems; Oct. 6, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics, online.


Impotence, sexual dysfunction
Male factory workers in China exposed to very high doses of this chemical that's been widely used in hard plastic bottles have high rates of sexual problems. Heavy exposure to BPA on the job is linked to impotence and lower sexual desire and satisfaction.


Excess intake may be linked to childhood obesity.


Thyroid function
BPA is associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone in both pregnant women and their newborn boys.


Undescended testes
Fetal exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) may lead to boys with cryptorchidism, the medical term for undescended testicles. The condition occurs in 2 percent to 5 percent of newborn boys and requires surgery to bring the testes out of the abdominal cavity. Boys born with cryptorchidism have an increased risk of fertility problems and testicular cancer in adulthood. These boys had high levels of BPA in their fetal cord blood also had low levels of the hormone insulin-like 3, or INSL3, one of two hormones that regulate descent of the testicles.

Safety of Epoxy can coatings
Bisphenol A is also a key constituent of epoxy resins, which are used as protective coatings on metal cans to maintain the quality of canned food and beverages.

Safety of Dental sealants
Dental sealants and composites, many of which are formulated from bisphenol A -derived components, play a role in preventing tooth decay and in maintaining dental health.