The headlines are out. The chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is now “linked to infertility.” How do we know that? Researchers exposed immature eggs left over from fertility treatments to high levels of BPA in the lab. The result, notes The Boston Globe, was: “Only 35 percent of eggs exposed to the lowest levels of BPA had a normal number and configuration of chromosomes after they fully matured compared with 71 percent of those in a control group of eggs that weren’t exposed to BPA.”
The findings certainly don’t warrant all the alarming headlines. The exposure in a lab of high levels of any chemical to eggs that were discarded because they were deemed defective in the first place, tells us little about actual trace exposure to healthy eggs inside the human body. The study authors note these limitations:
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION Although we used sibling oocytes to overcome potential confounders, such as infertility diagnosis and maternal age, additional studies with a larger number of oocytes are required to confirm the present results. Having access only to clinically discarded oocytes, we were limited to evaluating only those oocytes that failed to mature in vivo despite having been exposed to gonadotrophin stimulation and the ovulatory trigger of HCG.
Despite these serious weaknesses in the study, one of its authors, Catherine Racowsky, contributes to the hype. While urging women not to panic, Racowsky and the Boston Globe conclude:
There’s also not much women can do for the time being to reduce their exposure to BPA. “It’s everywhere in our environment,” Racowsky said. “And it likely doesn’t act independently” but acts with other chemicals that also disrupt reproductive hormones. “We really need a better understanding of all this,” she added, “and that will take more research funding.”
She might as well have said: “We didn’t really prove much; please send money.”
Editor's Note: This preceding post was originally posted on August 5 at IWF.com, the website of the Independent Women's Forum under the headline, "An Alarming Call for BPA Research Funding."