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Studies Prove BPA Can Cross Placenta To Fetuses 234

Posted by kdawson
from the estrogen-mimic dept.
Totes McGotes writes "From canned food to plastic bottles, Bisphenol-A seems to be cropping up everywhere, and now two new studies show that BPA freely crosses the placenta from pregnant mother to fetus. Plus, the research found that chemical transformations occur in the fetus allowing inactive BPA to be converted to the active form."
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Studies Prove BPA Can Cross Placenta To Fetuses

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  • Aaaand... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...what is this Bisphenol-A and why should I care?
    • by KevinKnSC (744603) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:03PM (#32501238)

      ...he says, taking a long drink from his plastic water bottle.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Most name brand manufacturers have phased out BPA the last time a study came out about the chemical... in 2007? This is on par with doing a study about the adverse effects of lead paint or asbestos insulation. Possibly dangerous chemical isolated in common item, replacement chemical used, hazardous chemical phased out of use. You're only at risk if you buy your hard plastic water bottles at the dollar store.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ecklesweb (713901)

      It's a chemical used in many crystal-clear hard plastics. Like water bottles and baby bottles. Don't remember what it does to you - rots your brain or something.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by GungaDan (195739)

        It feminizes, IIRC.

        • What he said.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Faaaabulous.

        • Sort of (Score:5, Informative)

          by Benfea (1365845) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:16PM (#32501406)
          It acts like female hormones once it gets inside the human body. Not good for adults, but really bad for babies.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Yvan256 (722131)

            I guess Lois Griffin must have used a lot of BPA products while she was pregnant with Stewie.

          • Is that why so many high school girls thse days look like they got stabbed by two cruise missiles in the back compared to high school girls 20+ years ago?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by hairyfeet (841228)

              It has got to be something because if you have been anywhere near a Junior High lately you know something ain't right. I was loading my groceries at a store next to our local JHS when they got out, and all I could think is "How in the fuck is anybody supposed to tell what is jailbait anymore? Hell these kids are 13 going on 24!". I doubt very seriously even the bouncers at the bar would have thought twice if one of them showed a fake ID. It is just nuts!

              I don't know if it is the BPA in TFA, but we need to s

          • Now before you all start calling me names, I have a serious question to ask.

            Could this by any chance have to do with the increase in homosexuality?

            I've also heard that this behavior is due to a dense population (too many frogs in the pond theory) or perhaps we're just a more open society.

          • Does it though? (Score:5, Informative)

            by snowwrestler (896305) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @07:21PM (#32503856)

            BPA as a chemical was discovered in the 19th century and it was investigated as a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. However, it was never pursued as a production estrogen replacement (unlike DES). The question is, why not? Try to find an answer online--it's very difficult.

            My understanding is that while it appeared to act like estrogen in the test tube, it turned out to have very little measurable estrogen-like effect in humans. My understanding is based on reading I did on BPA several years ago, but I have misplaced the citations. If anyone has a link to a detailed history of the pharma research involving BPA in the early 20th century, I'd be interested to read it. The Wikipedia article, for instance, is pretty much silent on anything involving BPA before a few years ago.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          It feminizes, IIRC.

          That must explain why the current crop of political leaders consists of Chickenhawks on the right and pussies on the left ;)

          I can see the bumper sticker now: Ban plastic bottles! It's cheaper than injecting testosterone into our politicians.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      It's probably something you could google.

  • by sanosuke001 (640243) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:58PM (#32501164)
    I love it when the description actually explains why something it good or bad.

    BPA! It cures cancer! Now it can cure your unborn fetus' cancer, too!

    • Re:Great description (Score:5, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:12PM (#32501344) Journal
      Bisphenol A is a component in polycarbonate plastics, used to make stuff like baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs, and household electronics. It is also used in thermal and carbonless paper, and as a protective coating on the inside of tin cans. BPA has been linked to obesity and many cancers, and worst of all (dumm, dumm, DAHHHH) adult male sexual dysfunction.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)
        Let me be the first to say, "Oh we're so fucked"
      • ...and worst of all adult male sexual dysfunction.

        I'm a geek, getting that would be the least of my problems.

      • adult male sexual dysfunction

        I heard Slashdot causes this too.

        • by t33jster (1239616)

          adult male sexual dysfunction

          I heard Slashdot causes this too.

          Correlation != causation. You must be new here (said the guy with an orders of magnitude higher UID).

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "BPA has been linked to obesity and many cancers, and worst of all (dumm, dumm, DAHHHH) adult male sexual dysfunction.

        in rats that have been heavily dosed.

        None of those effects have beens seen in human.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Urkki (668283)

      I love it when the description actually explains why something it good or bad.

      No! That's bad when that happens! The ability to comment and moderate are meant for us to demonstrate our superior intellectual capabilities by correcting the glaring factual errors and omissions of TFS and TFA. No, /. depends on bad summaries and articles.

  • by Pigeon451 (958201) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:04PM (#32501256)

    So now that companies have stopped using BPA, what other additives should we investigate? Plastics still contain various chemicals that define the type of plastic...

    I've moved to using glass for food storage. Although heavier, it's chemically safer since it's non-porous, and much easier to clean.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by exhilaration (587191)
      So now that companies have stopped using BPA...

      I'm pretty sure that canned food companies haven't stopped using it [consumerreports.org].

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      ...also easy to reuse and won't end up in the Pacific garbage patch.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      BPA isn't a food additive, it's used primarily to make plastics. Products containing bisphenol A-based plastics have been in commerce for more than 50 years. It's used to line cans for everything from beer to soda to canned veggies. They used to make baby bottles out of it, IINM they stopped that.

      I seem to vaguely remember that it's linked to erectile dysfunction... Yep, wikipedia says "Exposure to BPA in the workplace was associated with self-reported adult male sexual dysfunction".

      Oh wait, I should have f

      • "self-reported adult male sexual dysfunction"...

        Well, that's not as bad as "spousal-reported sexual dysfunction".
    • by happy_place (632005) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @05:21PM (#32502396) Homepage
      How dare you suggest we use glass, you insensitive clod! My kids and I have trouble with glass, or should I say Glass Shard Contamination, as they tend to break and send shards of glass into the flesh opening blood-letting wounds... though once upon a time blood-letting was considered a form of medical treatment...
    • by mcsqueak (1043736)

      I've moved to using glass for food storage. Although heavier, it's chemically safer since it's non-porous, and much easier to clean.

      See, I still store food in tupperware, but will only reheat in glass containers, or microwave-safe plates. Does simply storing food in the containers contaminate it with BPA, or does the heating process do that?

  • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:07PM (#32501276) Homepage Journal

    Studies don't "prove" anything. All they do is add a little weight to one side of an argument or another. Exactly how much weight depends on what was studied, how it relates to existing science, the methodology of the study, etc., etc., etc.

    This study seems to add a little evidence to the belief that BPA is dangerous, of which there's already a lot. But only scientifically illiterate journalists and pundits (and, unfortunately, not a few opinionated doctors) look a single study and jump to big conclusion. You really need to look at the whole body of research.s

    • by thePig (964303) <rajmohan_h.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:27PM (#32501546) Journal

      There has been quite a bit of scientific literature regarding BPA - see the links from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816)

        Dude, did you read even a single word of what I said? If you had, you'd know I wasn't defending BPA.

    • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @05:09PM (#32502208)

      The article didn't say that the study proved that BPA is dangerous. It said that they proved that BPA can cross the placenta. All it takes to prove that something possible is to record a single incident of it occurring. That is definitely within the realm of what a single study can do, and assuming that these studies were performed correctly, that is exactly what they did. There are a lot of things that cannot be conclusively proven with a single piece of evidence, but the use of the word in this headline here is perfectly legitimate.

      • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @05:40PM (#32502646) Homepage Journal

        The article didn't say that the study proved that BPA is dangerous.

        True. But the headline did. Does rather (look at the caption line of your current window)

        It said that they proved that BPA can cross the placenta.

        No, it said researchers "found" this to be the case in experiments with pregnant rats. I'm not just quibbling when I refuse to use the P word here. This is evidence that BPA crosses human placentas, and anybody who cares about neonatal health should certainly pay attention. But it's just not the same as proof. Another researcher might do another study that confirms or refutes this one. That wouldn't be proof either, just more evidence. And any of the above studies might get torn down if something finds fault with their methodology — which happens a lot in science, especially medical science.

        Science isn't about proof. It's about accumulating evidence that backs up or tears down whatever theory or model happens to be under examination. This is inconvenient if you want to write pat little headlines, but it's the main reason science is more effective at advancing human knowledge than religion.

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:07PM (#32501278)

    Apparently we don't really know:

    The JAMA study measured urinary levels of BPA in 1455 adults aged 18-74 years, in relation to 8 conditions: arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, respiratory disease (eg asthma, bronchitis, emphysema), stroke, thyroid disease. Higher BPA concentrations were found only in association with heart disease, diabetes and liver damage. This is a preliminary study, and “association” is not proof of causation but it does give grounds for concern. Bottom line: The significance, if any, of high urinary levels of BPA is not yet known, but long-term studies are certainly needed.

    http://envirolaw.com/how-dangerous-is-bpa/ [envirolaw.com]

    Personally I think it's a bad idea to cook food in plastic containers, or store things in plastic that can act as a solvent. The fact that you can taste the plastic container in the food is something I find disturbing and we primarily use glass and stainless, if only for that issue.

    • The fact that you can taste the plastic container in the food is something

      Based on the fact that most people don't notice the bad taste of the frozen food itself in the plastic container that they cook in the microwave, I doubt they notice the taste of the plastic...

      • by Urkki (668283)

        The fact that you can taste the plastic container in the food is something

        Based on the fact that most people don't notice the bad taste of the frozen food itself in the plastic container that they cook in the microwave, I doubt they notice the taste of the plastic...

        ...or perhaps it's you who doesn't notice the good taste of microwave meals? Yes, actually, even without knowing you, I'm pretty sure you don't notice that good taste at all... ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490) *

      The fact that you can taste the plastic container in the food

      This has always baffled me. As a kid I remember the plasticy taste from our plastic drink cups. It was especially noticeable if it was a closed container. You don't need a scientist to tell you it is leeching into the water when you can taste it. I don't understand why that didn't make people think "wait... it tastes like plastic... doesn't that mean that there is plastic leeching in the water? Is this possibly bad for me?"

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Probably not. Plastics isn't absorbed. BPA is not plastic. it is in some plastics.

        Of course there still hasn't been a study that showed any effects in humans, and the study didn't address the fact that the half life of BPA is about a day.

        The banning in Canada was not based on any facts, just fear.

  • A lot of papers were published in the 1990s claiming that endocrine disruptors such as BPA will cause children to have delayed onset of puberty. Since the onset of puberty has become earlier if anything, this seems to be in the same class of research as the "harm" of fluoridated water, power line radio waves, or dental amalgam mercury.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by spaanoft (153535)

      I read somewhere that BPA does delay the onset of puberty... but only in boys, and that it speeds it up in girls. I was under the impression that this was happening, but then again I'm nowhere near that field of work so I could be completely wrong.

    • dental amalgam mercury.

      You mean the controversy where most people agree that it leeches mercury into the mouth... the question is, how much?

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:50PM (#32501896) Homepage Journal

      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] you remember it wrong. And it wasn't the '90s, it was two years ago.

      In 2007, a consensus statement by 38 experts on bisphenol A concluded that average levels in people are above those that cause harm to many animals in laboratory experiments.[28] A panel convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health determined that there was "some concern" about BPA's effects on fetal and infant brain development and behavior.[10] A 2008 report by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) later agreed with the panel, expressing "some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A," and "minimal concern for effects on the mammary gland and an earlier age for puberty for females in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A." The NTP had "negligible concern that exposure of pregnant women to bisphenol A will result in fetal or neonatal mortality, birth defects, or reduced birth weight and growth in their offspring."[29]

      Also, later in the wiki article it says there's a link between BPA and both obesity and drug abuse.

      Disruption of the dopaminergic system
      A 2005 review concluded that prenatal and neonatal exposure to BPA in mice can potentiate the central dopaminergic systems, resulting in the supersensitivity to the drugs-of-abuse-induced reward effects and hyperlocomotion.[47]

      A 2008 review has concluded that BPA, mimic estrogenic activity and impact various dopaminergic processes to enhance mesolimbic dopamine activity resulting in hyperactivity, attention deficits, and a heightened sensitivity to drugs of abuse.[48]

      A 2009 study on rats has concluded that prenatal and neonatal exposure to low-dose BPA causes deficits in development at dorsolateral striatum via altering the function of dopaminergic receptors.[49] Another 2009 study has found associated changes in the dopaminergic system.[45]

      • by dorpus (636554)

        You'll find the same sort of "panel consensus" by scientists in the 1970s who were absolutely sure that billions of people will starve to death by the year 2000, because the world doesn't produce enough food and everybody will be malnourished.

        The closer I get to obtaining my PhD, the more I'm learning that science is a group-think exercise where you had better agree with what others think, or else.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        This paper is from 2008. It's probably the same one.

        Also, no effect has been shown in humans. Not even a correlation.

    • Since the onset of puberty has become earlier if anything...

      Onset of puberty is, I'm assuming, a complex biological event we don't completely understand, but one that can be affected by multiple factors. One explanation as to why puberty is starting earlier is that BPA did not do anything. Another explanation is that, no, BPA is still having unnatural effects but other factors, like increased hormones in meat, are having some other unnatural effects that would partially mask that.

      The following is pure conjecture:

      Maybe BPA -is- actually delaying puberty in males, b

  • by seanonymous (964897) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:12PM (#32501346)
    it was your cup that was poisoned. They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to BPA.
  • Bisphenol-A (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:14PM (#32501382) Journal

    After a little digging I find that it is suspected in everything from breast cancer to obesity in children. It has been suspected as being bad sense the 1930's but there is no direct link to it causing any notable issues.

    So in 80+ years of research the best they can come up with is "There may be an issue with Bisphenol-A"

    It also seems to me that in 3 generations we would have seen a difference or at a minimum science should be able to say "It causes XXX"

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by capnchicken (664317)

      I remember awhile back that there was a study that found that only drinking diet pop still affected a person's obesity, even though it did not contain any calories. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20050613/drink-more-diet-soda-gain-more-weight [webmd.com] .

      I'm not saying that there is solid correlation here, I'm fine with the opinion that people who drink diet pop are probably the people making the worst food choices anyway. But what if it's not just the sugar, but the propensity to drink pop from cans with BPA and cont

    • Re:Bisphenol-A (Score:4, Informative)

      by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:55PM (#32501974)

      Actually, while in no way implicating BPA, in the average age of puberty has been dropping in Western countries for the past 170 years (since the 1840s according to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]). The disparity seems to correlate at least in part, to industrialization; the shift started later in Japan (1945), but progressed more rapidly (dropping by 11 months per decade, instead of 4 months per decade in Europe). In 1840, the average age of first menstruation was 17, in France, 15.3. Nowadays, either age would be considered quite late; typical onset of menstruation is now around age 11.75 worldwide; 12.5 in the U.S.

      Clearly, BPA isn't responsible for the entire historical shift (what with BPA containing plastics only becoming common in the last 50 years or so); changes in diet (particularly the reduction in malnourishment levels) and activity levels (hunter gatherer groups tend to have an onset later than their diet would otherwise allow for) are responsible for some of the difference. But the increased exposure to all sorts of hormone mimicking chemicals (such as BPA) was likely responsible for some of the shift as well. The question is whether BPA is unusually damaging, whether it is possible to remove BPA and other hormone mimicking chemicals from our products and the environment without affecting us negatively in other ways, etc.

      Unlike the realm of medicine, where the scientific method has been applied for to evaluate treatments more and more often in recent decades, the chemical industry remains largely untested and unregulated. People were painting their homes with lead paint and burning leaded gas in their cars and it took decades for studies to make the link to retardation and poor impulse control. For something like BPA, where the negative effects seem to be longer term and less severe than that of lead poisoning, it's not at all surprising that no one has investigated it until recently.

    • So in 80+ years of research the best they can come up with is "There may be an issue with Bisphenol-A"

      We haven't cured cancer or the common cold either. Biology is hard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MobyDisk (75490) *

      So in 80+ years of research the best they can come up with is "There may be an issue with Bisphenol-A"

      Why is that not enough? Do you want them to force feed the stuff to a bunch of people for 30 years and compare them to the general population? Unfortunately, that is just about the only way to know for sure. Will you volunteer to be one of the people in that study? And when it is done, promise not to sue them for turning you into an obese breast-cancer infected human with no reproductive system left.

      BPA is a leeches into your body at low levels over your entire lifetime. It is really hard to tell what

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evilviper (135110)

      It has been suspected as being bad sense the 1930's but there is no direct link to it causing any notable issues.

      "The first evidence of the estrogenicity of bisphenol A came from experiments on rats conducted in the 1930s, but it was not until 1997 that adverse effects of low-dose exposure on laboratory animals were first reported."

      It also seems to me that in 3 generations we would have seen a difference or at a minimum science should be able to say "It causes XXX"

      I've got one:

      "Bisphenol-A causes you to dev

  • Better Article (Score:3, Informative)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:39PM (#32501712) Homepage Journal
    For those of you that don't want to dig through the links in the summary blog, here is a more in-depth discussion [environmen...thnews.org] of the papers.
  • More fetuses will be born as female-ish babies and how is this a bad thing?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by losfromla (1294594)
      hmm. That on the off-chance that you reproduce (you are a slashdotter/geek/asexual), your sons will be female-ish. Unless you are seriously perverted this will not bring you or your androgynous children any joy. Female-ish, is not female, it is just, not-very-male.
  • At first I read that as BP causing these things, but then I realized they probably are (in the Gulf at least).

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