The controversy over bisphenol A (BPA) refuses to go away, with a new study suggesting that exposure to the chemical affects heart health in female mice.

A research team at the University of Cincinnati said in a report published in the journal Endocrinology that heart function and blood pressure in mice exposed to BPA from birth though young adulthood are affected differently in males and females, with females at greater risk of damage. The scientists found that in young BPA-exposed female mice, the heart is more sensitive to stress-induced ischemic damage in a way not observed in untreated female mice.

One of the researchers, Scott Belcher, PhD, professor of pharmacology and cell biophysics, noted that there are differences between mice and humans but said that the findings from experimental models are informative and instructive about human heart health, and serve as well-established experimental models for the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals.

"The reality is everything from what we have seen from this study and a number of previous studies suggests that BPA likely worsens heart health in women, who have unique risks compared to men," Belcher added.

Other studies have linked BPA to neurological defects, diabetes and breast and prostate cancer. But the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remains that the approved uses of BPA in food containers and packaging are safe.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), responding to the latest study, pointed to research by federal government scientists that concludes BPA is safe as currently used.

"This comprehensive set of studies conducted by U.S. government researchers tells us a great deal more about the potential for BPA to cause health effects. For example, research funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and conducted by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the government's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, (Teeguarden et al.) found that, because of the way BPA is processed in the body, it is very unlikely that BPA could cause health effects at any realistic exposure level," commented Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., of ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group.

"Based substantially on this compelling body of research, government bodies around the world have clearly stated that BPA is safe as used in food contact materials," he added.