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Ask the doctor: Should I worry about health effects from BPA?

Updated: December 01, 2011

Q. Is the chemical BPA just another health scare, or is it really something we should be worried about?

A. BPA, which stands for bisphenol A, is estrogenic. That means that in some respects it behaves like the hormone estrogen. Although BPA was first developed as a synthetic estrogen, it was never used as a pharmaceutical because diethylstilbestrol (DES), another synthetic estrogen, was more potent. DES was pulled from the market in the 1970s after it was discovered that the daughters of the women who took it (extra estrogen was thought to reduce the risk of miscarriages and premature births) were more likely to have a rare type of vaginal cancer, and later studies found they also had a variety of fertility and other health problems.

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