The UK charity Breast Cancer UK released a report on May 14, 2013 entitled “Body of Evidence: An overview of the low dose effects of Bisphenol A in relation to breast cancer”. In the report, the NGO states that “there is now compelling evidence that low dose exposure to the hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemical (EDC), Bisphenol A (BPA), could be contributing to the rise in [breast cancer]”. The disease has increased by 90% since 1971. Patients are increasingly younger, with 20% of all cases occurring under age 50. The disease is calculated to cost £1.5 billion in the UK alone and ranks on third place after lung and prostate cancer.
Causes for breast cancer are thought to be diverse, and BPA is likely one of them, according to Breast Cancer UK. The report states that BPA’s chemical structure is similar to two substances known to be human carcinogens classified as such by the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC). BPA itself has so far not been evaluated by IARC. In lab studies, BPA has been shown to reduce efficacy of breast cancer treatments.
Using clear language, the report goes on to state that “it is wrong to assume that safe levels of exposure to BPA can be determined by a point at which no, or low, effects are observed”. This is a direct criticism of current chemical risk assessment practice used by government agencies like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both EFSA and FDA are further charged with incorrectly claiming that exposure to BPA is low, and that the chemical is rapidly eliminated from the human body. The reality, so the report, is that exact exposure levels remain unclear and that “some studies indicate that [humans] do not necessarily eliminate BPA rapidly”. Children and infants thereby are of particular concern.
Concluding, the report calls for urgent action to reduce human exposure to BPA. The charity closes the report with a list of suggested regulatory actions, including a ban of BPA in food contact materials based on the precautionary principle and an inclusion of EDCs as “preventable risk factors for breast cancer” in the UK Strategy for Cancer. Notably, EFSA is urged to reconsider its current chemical risk assessment practice that “provides a false sense of security” by assuming that low dose exposures to BPA are safe.
Body of Evidence: An overview of the low dose effects of Bisphenol A in relation to breast cancer. Breast Cancer UK report, 14 May 2013.
Breast Cancer UK issues BPA ban rallying cry but FSA remains unmoved. Food Production Daily, 14 May 2013.