Breast Cancer UK has called for the immediate ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food and drinks packaging as part of a manifesto launched at a parliamentary reception this week.
There is scientific evidence that concludes that low level exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemical (BPA), has an adverse effect on the development of breast tissue, said the charity.
Dietary exposure appears to be the main route of human exposure to BPA and continued uncertainty about the chemical’s safety means that the precautionary principle should be used to mandate exposure elimination.
However, UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said exposure from food contact materials does not represent a health risk based on the European Food Safety Authority’s scientific opinion.
UK estimates show that 26.8% of breast cancer cases can be attributed to “established or probable causes”, such as body weight, diet, alcohol consumption and exogenous hormones) and between 5% and 10% are thought to have an hereditary or familial link. This suggests that there is no attributed cause for around 63% of cases.
Lynn Ladbrook, chief executive of Breast Cancer UK, said early diagnosis had often been presented as prevention.
“The next step is that MPs go away and look at the points and take it to their parties and committees as they are forming their manifestos,” she told FoodQualityNews.com.
“If the UK political parties got behind [banning BPA] it will have significant influence in the EU as it will add an incredibly powerful voice, but we are not there yet.”
The Breast Cancer UK manifesto 5 pledges for 2015 and beyond was launched this week, challenging the government to stop the disease before it starts.
Pledges on improving the regulation of chemicals, banning BPA and improving labelling laws are part of a broader campaign around breast cancer for policy makers to move beyond ‘awareness’ to political action on the chemical causes of the disease.
It is supported by HEAL, Cancer Prevention and Education Society, CHEM Trust and Client Earth.
Low dose debate
Proponents of BPA claim that it is safe to use because human levels of exposure are low.
BPA gives rise to ‘non monotonic’ dose responses, which means that it has varying effects at different doses.
Tolerable Daily Intakes (TDIs) of BPA, which have been predicted from higher doses to permit its continued use in everyday products, may be unsafe for the consumer.
The charity also shared its response to the draft scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the risks to public health related to the presence of BPA in foodstuffs.
Ladbrook said people are waiting for EFSA’s scientific opinion expected next year .
“It is difficult to make a move in policy making circles when we are waiting for EFSA to come out with its final opinion.
“It is confusing as industry relies on dose makes poison but BPA gives rise to non monotomic doses, so different doses produce different responses.”
She added that it is ‘dangerous’ to base exposure conclusions on the average adult, citing an example that some adults are allergic to certain things and others are not.
EFSA has been selective in its use of measurements and data and has for unclear reasons dismissed key areas of exposure, detailed the response .
This could mean that the overall measurement of human exposure to BPA falls far short of the reality, said the charity.
“When we talk about a safer alternative, we mean don’t just replace it with something that is not tested,” said Ladbrook.
“Adequate testing on the alternatives must be done as and when they are developed. This is laying down the gauntlet and challenging industry to put in place other systems.”