We at ACSH are rarely surprised by anything we see published. Since it is our job to debunk bad science, we get a steady diet of it. But we got a special dessert dropped in our laps, and this one takes the cake.
Although the study in question is from July, it is so jaw-droppingly awful that we decided to include it today. And when you read it, you may want to discontinue your subscription to Scientific American, which according to ACSH s media director Erik Lief should really be called Unscientific American.
We have discussed the rampant anti-BPA mythology the poster-child for bad chemical science regularly, pointing out that there is nothing even remotely valid about any study that suggests that the chemical (a component of certain plastics which is found in minute quantities in virtually everyone) has ever done harm to anyone.
Although it is impossible to prove that any substance is absolutely safe, ironically, the best evidence of BPA s safety comes from an article in Scientific American which attacks the chemical. But their conclusion, which is about as scientifically incorrect as possible, may in fact, be the best evidence for the chemical s safety.
The July 25, 2013 issue of Scientific American contains a study entitled Mice Harmed by Low Dose of BPA, Not High. If this seems counterintuitive, you are correct.
The article, which is based on a study by Fredrick vom Saal, a professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia, who has devoted his career to anti-BPA pseudo-science, begins, Baby mice exposed in the womb to low doses but not high doses of bisphenol A were fatter and had metabolic changes linked to obesity and diabetes.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom has plenty to say about this. Scientific American should not only have stopped the presses when they took this on, but should have pushed them down the stairs. This would have prevented them from looking like imbeciles for publishing this article.
The heart of the matter is the claim that small doses of a chemical or drug can have an effect while large doses of the same substance cannot. If this sounds completely crazy, it is.
He continues, Life doesn't work this way. If I have a headache which I now do after reading this article and take 40 mg of Advil instead of 400 mg, is it going to work better? If I burn my hand on the stove, will leaving it there for longer make the burn get better? Maybe so if you re on Pluto, which is where I suspect the reviewers of this study (if indeed there were any) live.
In fact, one reader s comment says it as well as we could. Unfortunately, the suggestion from this study is that everyone take [5,000 micrograms] as a supplement every day - to shield them from the harm associated with 10% of that level. Yes Alice, this is a looking glass game.
This person should work for us.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bloom, who is not a huge fan of poisoning other people, offers the following advice: Should you nonetheless feel obliged to do it, make sure to use as little poison as possible, since it will obviously work better. Duh.