BPA is not a “smoking gun” for breast cancer

Jumping on the “ban BPA” bandwagon (“banwagon?”) before doing any semblance of serious toxicological research, Dr. Kathleen T. Ruddy, founder of an activist group called the The Breast Health and Healing Foundation, claims that the chemical, which is used in food safety applications, cans, and plastics, is a carcinogen. As a press release from the organization puts it, Dr. Ruddy says:

“I can’t answer this question (…are breast and prostate cancer related and, if so, how?) definitively, but I have discovered a “smoking gun” in the chemical, bisphenol A. If you have been following my blogs, you know that I am very concerned about the carcinogenic effects of BPA, a chemical hardening agent found in plastic containers – and ubiquitous in our environment.”

Fortunately, STATS put the issue of the supposed link between breast cancer and BPA to Dr. Calvin Willhite, who conducted a risk assessment of the chemical for NSF International, a leading global consumer affairs organization and World Health Organization collaborative center, as part of our investigation into the concern over the risks of the chemical in America (but not anywhere else in the world). Here’s what he says:

“…the observations of changes in the female rodent mammary gland associated with BPA exposure were made after subcutaneous injections (e.g., Biology of Reproduction, Volume 65, pages 1215-1223, 2001; Congenital Anomalies, Volume 41, pages 187-193, 2002;  Endocrinology, Volume 148, pages 116-127, 2007;  Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 18, pages 803-811, 2004).

In contrast, the U.S. National Toxicology Program in 1982 [Carcinogenesis Bioassay of Bisphenol A (CAS No. 80-05-7) in F344 Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Feed Study), Technical Report No. 215] concluded based on the results of lifetime BPA feeding studies that “there was no convincing evidence that bisphenol A was carcinogenic for F344 rats or B6C3F1 mice of either sex.”  Given the irrefragable fact the animal evidence demonstrates a lack of any carcinogenic effect in both sexes (including that in the female mammary gland) based on well-designed and well-conducted lifetime oral exposure studies in at least two appropriate animal species and in the absence of other animal or human data suggesting a potential for carcinogenic effects, BPA can be considered not likely to be carcinogenic to human beings.

Since there was no indication whatsoever of preneoplastic or neoplasic changes in the mammary gland of the rats and mice after lifetime ingestion of very high BPA doses (to as much as 148 milligrams/kilogram per day in rats and 1,900 milligrams/kilogram per day in mice), the suggestion that somehow BPA injection studies in rodents are directly relevant to human health is without empirical support.

Dr. Ruddy appears to be basing her “smoking gun” theory on studies that have been rejected by risk assessments in the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand and Japan as badly done or irrelevant. We urge Dr. Ruddy to read “Science Suppressed: How America became obsessed with BPA in order to discover a more up-to-date and accurate overview of the research and weight of evidence on BPA, as warning women that they are at risk from breast cancer in the absence of reliable evidence seems contrary to the mission of her organization.

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