Health Minute: Plastic Water Bottles... Are They Safe?

Plastic water bottles are linked to heart disease and diabetes. The first major study of health effects in people from a chemical used in plastic baby bottles, food cans and a host of other products shows a connection between them and a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.

People who have a higher exposure to bisphenol A or BPA have a 39-percent higher risk for those diseases, the study’s authors say. And because of the possible public health implications, the results “deserve scientific follow-up,” the scientists added. But the study is preliminary, far from proof that the chemical causes heart disease and diabetes, The Associated Press reports.

Two Dartmouth College analysts of medical research said the study raises questions but
provides no answers about whether the ubiquitous chemical is harmful. The findings were released Tuesday to coincide with the researchers’ presentation of their findings at a Food and Drug Administration scientific advisers’ hearing.

The FDA has the power to limit use of BPA in food containers and medical devices but last month released an internal report concluding that BPA exposure is not enough to warrant action. Since then, another government agency released a separate report concluding that risks to people, in particular to infants and children, cannot be ruled out.

Past animal studies have suggested reproductive and hormone-related problems from BPA. The new study is the largest to examine possible BPA effects in people and the first to suggest a direct link to heart disease, said scientists Frederick vom Saal and John Peterson Myers, both longtime critics of the chemical. Dr. Ana Soto of Tufts University said the study raises enough concerns to warrant government action to limit BPA exposure. No government action has been taken so far. However, health officials recommend that you limit your use of plastic water bottles with the number 7 on the bottom, and avoid microwaving plastic containers.

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