Once again, mainstream newspapers are quoting quacks on the so-called “dangers” of Bisphenol-A (aka BPA), a key ingredient in making plastic strong and canned foods safe. The latest high-profile crusader is Dr. Lawrence Rosen, adviser to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack Medical Center. He recently implied in the Record that BPA causes cancer and hormone disorders in children.
But Dr. Rosen practices quack medicine, and thus his BPA comments should be disregarded. He relies on such voodoo (a.k.a. woo) as homeopathy, aromatherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, Reiki, meditation, and guided imagery in his practice “operated according to the principles of ecologically sustainable medicine.” He even equivocates on the use of vaccines. No news as to whether his alma mater is requesting its medical degree back.
After attributing BPA to a whole host of “parents-worst-nightmare” ills, Rosen recommends parents refer, not to summaries of the latest medical research, not to public health authorities, and not even to their family doctor, but to the Environmental Working Group. This discredited pseudo-science organization revels in its alarmism, linking benign consumer products such as genetically improved foods, cosmetics, and even sunscreen to cancer.
Meanwhile, the best, most comprehensive science has always backed up BPA’s safety. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration cleared BPA – in the world’s top toxicology journal, Toxicological Sciences – yet again. Its findings, concluded Dan Doerge, FDA scientist who worked on the study, “support and extend the conclusion… that BPA is safe.” This is in line with research from UN, European, German, and Canadian health authorities and the bulk of peer reviewed research going back to when the FDA first declared it safe for product use in the 1950s.
So what’s sustaining the anti-BPA crusaders like Rosen, who fly in the face of this consensus? To some extent, it’s relishing the role of being contrarian. But Trevor Butterworth, editor of STATS.org, has a less glamorous but more time-honored rationale: money. He says that anti-BPA crusaders have drummed up approximately $100 million in grant money claiming that BPA is dangerous. But newspapers seem happy to overlook this so long as they can get a quote that will scare people and sell papers.