Two new studies are warning expectant mothers to avoid Bisphenol-A or BPA and the less known diethylstilbestrol (DES). Exposure to these two chemicals during pregnancy can alter the entire life of the baby. Both are endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to various types of cancer and other adverse health and development conditions.
Last week The National Toxicology Program released its final report on BPA. The report concluded there is “some concern” that BPA alters brain development, behavior and the prostate gland in children, before and after birth.
But avoiding BPA won’t be easy. The chemical is found in 92 percent of foods and drinks packaged in plastic and metal cans today and have been since the 1960s.
Researchers found that BPA levels vary dramatically even between cans of the same product, according to the study entitled, “No Silver Lining” conducted by the National Workgroup for Safe Markets. For example, one can of Del Monte French Style Green Beans had 36 micrograms of BPA per serving while another can of the same product had 138 micrograms per serving—a level linked to changes in prostate cells and increased aggression in animals.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like BPA, interfere with hormone biosynthesis, metabolism or action resulting in adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. These chemicals are designed, produced and marketed largely for specific industrial purposes. As such, the Grocery Manufacturers Association says BPA is safe.
“There is "no replacement for BPA that will work across the board for all foods," the association's Robert Brackett said in a statement. "The performance of any technology that could impact the safety of food or beverages must be proven over the entire shelf life of the product before it can be used.”
However, a second study links prenatal BPA and DES exposure to breast cancer. Hugh Taylor, MD, is lead author of the study accepted for publication in Hormones & Cancer, a journal of The Endocrine Society, and is an Obstetrician with the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.