What does the flu have to do with BPA?

It was surprising to see that a study recently published by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health claims that BPA weakens the flu virus in women. Most of the studies we see about Bisphenol A result in an ominous headline alleging any number of health concerns that may possibly be related to BPA exposure, regardless of the regulatory assessments that uniformly confirm that BPA poses no consumer health risks. What is in this new study about the flu and BPA that results in the good news about the flu?

Medical News Today reported, “The results showed that estradiol, raloxifene (an SERM) and bisphenol A reduced virus replication in the female – but not the male – cultured nasal cells.” Of course, this led to the headline in one publication that “The man cold really does exist.” Anything we can do to reduce number of flu cases is a good thing! But what does this really mean?

With this new study on flu and BPA exposure, it is important to take the results with circumspection, as we note with all studies about BPA. Researchers use a variety of methods. Some conduct population surveys and look for statistical correlations. Others use petri dish studies, testing an organ, tissue, or in this case virus, with doses of a chemical substance, in this case BPA. The study then compares one variable in the chemical exposure test to a variable in the control test, and the researchers attribute any variance to the chemical exposure. In the real world, with many more uncontrolled variables and factors on our health, BPA simply does not have strong positive or negative effects on human health.

Based on this one study, are we going to call on the crowd of professors who calculate the ‘public health costs’ of BPA to revise their cost estimate to account for the productivity gain of reduced flu cases? No, we are not, because we know that in humans, BPA exposure has no human health effects.

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