BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Until a few years ago, many people were not that familiar with bisphenol A -- otherwise known as BPA -- a manmade chemical often found in the lining of many plastic and aluminum food containers. It entered public discourse after concerns were raised by public health advocacy groups that BPA may be contributing to the development of health conditions including cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, metabolic problems and adult diabetes.
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration banned BPA from use in manufacturing baby bottles and sippy cups, but not other types of food and beverage containers. A recent study finds BPA exposure could be costing nearly $3 billion a year in the United States in associated health costs for childhood obesity and adult heart disease.
It found BPA exposure was linked to 12,404 cases of childhood obesity and 33,863 new cases of coronary heart disease in 2008. The study concluded that removing BPA from food containers might prevent as many as 6,236 cases of childhood obesity and 22,350 cases of coronary heart disease annually, leading to an economic benefit equivalent to $1.7 billion a year.
Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor in pediatrics, environmental medicine and health policy at New York University's Lagone Medical Center and the study's author and lead researcher, based his analysis on past studies that have found a link between BPA exposure and these two medical conditions."We modeled effects of BPA on childhood obesity and adult coronary heart diseases using relationships identified in well-conducted, peer review studies," Trasande says. "We then modeled a counterfactual scenario in which BPA was removed from food uses and quantified benefits of prevention." 8 billion pounds of BPA are used in products every year in the U.S., with more than a million released into the environment annually.