You have probably read that researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) presented a study at the 18th European Congress of Endocrinology claiming that exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) could weaken teeth development in children.
More specifically they link BPA exposure to Molar Incisor Hypermineralisation (MIH); it affects 18% of young children between 6 and 9, as their permanent first molars and incisors are more sensitive and prone to cavities. While the MIH issue is very concerning for parents as teeth enamel does not develop throughout our lives, the study’s results, similarly to the one carried out by INSERM in 2013, should be taken with a pinch of salt.
First, in order to observe the mineralisation of tooth enamel, INSERM researchers gave rats daily doses of BPA or in combination with vinclozolin (a common fungicide used to control diseases), equivalent to an average dose a human would experience daily. This means that in proportion rodents, which are very different to humans, were exposed to huge dosage of BPA. This goes against the fundamental principle of risk and hazard – in order to assess risk one should assess actual levels of exposure.
Secondly, the researchers concluded that testosterone enabled the development of tooth enamel. In turn, they claimed, that because of BPA’s endocrine activity they could weaken teeth. What they forgot to take into consideration is that our daily exposure to BPA is 100 to 10,000 times lower than that needed to cause adverse effects. Not to mention that the human body is able to neutralize BPA particles and excrete them, as pointed out by Johns Hopkins University scientists.
The study’s weaknesses highlight one interesting element in the debate on BPA. While many researchers work hard to come to reach scientific conclusions, it is likely that if an effect is observed in one species that doesn’t necessarily mean the same effect will be present in humans. Therefore, extending the possible impact could unnecessarily create stress to people are not versed in the technicalities of scientific research; in this case parents of young children. So next time you read an article on the negative effects of BPA, take the time to dive into the details – being pre-emptively scared can never be good!