News / USA

Common Chemical May Damage Teeth

Plastic Bottles are a major source of pollution. (Photo: Groundwork Anacostia River DC)
Plastic Bottles are a major source of pollution. (Photo: Groundwork Anacostia River DC)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A chemical compound that’s been linked to a number of health problems in animal studies may also damage tooth enamel in humans. BPA is found in many resins and plastics that people use everyday, such as water and baby bottles and food containers.


BPA, or Bisphenol A, can leach from the plastic and into food, water or snacks – and from there into us. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control survey in 2003/2004 found detectable levels of the chemical in 93 percent of more than 2,500 urine samples tested. It can also contaminate the environment, with countless plastic bottles littering many landscapes and waterways.

The NIH, the National Institutes of Health, says, “Animal studies indicate BPA may cause adverse effects, such as obesity, behavioral changes, diabetes, early onset puberty, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, reproductive disorders and development of prostate, breast and uterine cancer.”

It adds there is “reason for concern, especially for parents, because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA.” There’s ongoing research on whether BPA does indeed affect people the way it can animals.

French researcher Sylvie Babajko is the lead author of an article on BPA appearing in the American Journal of Pathology. She said that BPA is an endocrine disruptor.

“An endocrine disruptor is a substance that disturbs the endocrine system. That means hormones in humans, as well as in progeny.”

The endocrine system is a series of glands, such as the thyroid pituitary and adrenal, which release hormones affecting sexual development, growth and metabolism. And these hormones go everywhere in the body. Some chemicals can make their levels go up and down.

Babajko and fellow researchers are now trying to confirm that BPA can damage tooth enamel. She said they were notified about the possible link by others studying the effects of endocrine disruptors on lab animals’ reproductive systems.

“They found that the rats exposed to low doses of endocrine disruptors presented white spots on incisors. They called us and we studied these white spots and found that there was an enamel hypomineralization due to endocrine disruptors exposure,” she said.

In other words, BPA, circulating in the body, can adversely affect cells that produce tooth enamel, making it fragile or brittle. The question is: Are those white marks now showing up on human teeth as well?

“It is probably a problem,” she said, “because things and food contain BPA and we are probably all exposed to BPA. And it has been shown, at least with experiments on animals, that BPA can cause a lot of defects and teeth are one additional target of BPA.”

Analysis of the rats’ teeth show similar characteristics found in about 18 percent of children between the ages six and eight. These kids may have teeth that are extra sensitive to pain or more liable to get cavities. It’s believed humans are most sensitive to BPA in the first years of life. Further study is needed, but those white streaks may be an indication of early exposure to the chemical.

Since BPA can disrupt estrogen levels in animals, there’s concern that could affect men’s reproductive health. Men do produce estrogen, but usually in much lower levels than women. However, Babajko said that’s not been confirmed and is difficult to prove.

“It is possible, but not demonstrated in humans, of course, because we are all subjected to many endocrine disruptors. And it is difficult to be sure that BPA is the only one that is responsible for the reproductive defects. It is difficult to know precisely if BPA is the only one or if it is acting in combination with other molecules,” she said.

Concerns about BPA have led to the production of BPA-free plastic products. Europe banned baby bottles containing the chemical in January 2011. The U.S. took similar action in July of last year. While the Food and Drug Administration began voicing concerns about BPA in 2010, it has not officially reversed its 2008 decision declaring BPA safe.

France intends to extend the BPA ban to all food containers in July 2015.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid