Scientists link plastics chemical to health risks

Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:21pm EST
 
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By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Exposure to a chemical found in plastic containers is linked to heart disease, scientists said on Wednesday, confirming earlier findings and adding to pressure to ban its use in bottles and food packaging.

British and U.S. researchers studied the effects of the chemical bisphenol A using data from a U.S. government national nutrition survey in 2006 and found that high levels of it in urine samples were associated with heart disease.

Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is widely used in plastics and has been a growing concern for scientists in countries such as Britain, Canada and the United States, where food and drug regulators are examining its safety.

David Melzer, professor of epidemiology and public health at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England, who led the study, said the research confirmed earlier findings of a link between BPA and heart problems.

The analysis also confirmed that BPA plays a role in diabetes and some forms of liver disease, said Melzer's team, who studied data on 1,493 people aged 18 to 74.

"Our latest analysis largely confirms the first analysis, and excludes the possibility that the original report was a statistical blip," they said in a statement.

BPA, used to stiffen plastic bottles and line cans, belongs to a class of compounds sometimes called endocrine disruptors.

The U.S. Endocrine Society called last June for better studies into BPA and presented research showing the chemical can affect the hearts of women and permanently damage the DNA of mice.   Continued...

 
<p>A worker picks up a plastic bottle at the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation building before a news conference in Taipei November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Nicky Loh</p>