Australian scientists urge caution over latest BPA study

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th February 2013

Australian scientists have urged caution in interpreting the results of a new study that suggests a chemical used in food packaging may disrupt the development of young brains and be linked to autism.

Researchers at the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina found that bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, affects the growth of a gene in rats that is involved in the development of the nerve cells in the brain and spine.

These results in rats suggest that BPA might have similar affects on human brains, particularly those of babies and children. The results of the study suggested that female brains might be even more susceptible to damage than male brains.

BPA is sometimes used in plastic food packaging and bottled water. The chemical can be ingested if it seeps into the contents of food and beverage containers.

“Our study found that BPA may impair the development of the central nervous system, and raises the question as to whether exposure could predispose animals and humans to neurodevelopmental disorders,” said lead author Wolfgang Liedtke, associate professor of medicine, neurology and neurobiology at Duke.

But Australian scientists say the results are still inconclusive.

“There are a number of health outcomes, which have been linked to BPA exposure, including anxiety and ADHD,” said Emeritus Professor Michael Moore, a toxicologist and former director of the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology at the University of Queensland. “However these largely been associated with animal studies and may not necessarily relate to human outcomes.”

Professor Andrew Bartholomaeus, Adjunct Professor of Toxicology and Pharmacy at the University of Canberra agrees, saying that BPA consumed in food or drink is usually completely metabolized before it enters the bloodstream, meaning that the body’s cells are not exposed to the chemical.

BPA has a contentious history, with several other studies linking BPA to health problems in animals and humans.

BPA is found in some canned foods