HEALTH RISK: Chemicals in everyday plastic products like babies’ bottles are linked to breast cancer, says a US expert.
Chemicals in plastics like some drink bottles, babies’ bottles and food containers are raising women’s risk of breast cancer, says a visiting US expert.
Dr Maricel Maffini, a biologist specialising in environmental causes of breast cancer, also warns people to avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and raises concerns about chemicals leaching from canned food.
Maffini will this week speak in Rotorua at the first national breast cancer conference, organised by the Breast Cancer Network. Her research focuses on the links between breast cancer and chemicals like bisphenol A, found in many items including polycarbonate plastic containers. Bisphenol A increases exposure to oestrogen which lifts the risk of breast cancer.
“The problem is these bottles leach bisphenol A, so you are constantly drinking a low level of bisphenol A,” she told the Sunday Star-Times from Boston’s Tufts University School of Medicine where she’s a research assistant professor.
“The main argument of companies that produce the plastic bottles is the levels are so low, they are harmless but the exposure is chronic.”
Food Safety Authority spokesman Gary Bowering said ESR research had led the authority to conclude NZ consumers should not change their consumption because local foods had less or comparable levels of bisphenol A as those overseas.
Bowering said the ESR research, carried out in 2004, did not cover bottled water, but did cover soft drinks, which have higher acidity and were more likely to be harsher on containers.
“This would suggest bottled water is of even less concern,” he said.
Aimee Driscoll, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Amatil, said it did not use plastics containing bisphenol A in its bottles in New Zealand.
Dr Peter Plimmer, a plastics technology consultant to Auckland University and Plastics NZ, said there was “no way” anyone drinking from a hand-held bottle here could be exposed to bisphenol A. He said hand-held drinking bottles were made from PETE (polyethylene) plastics which did not contain bisphenol A. This interesting discussion continues here