The study was published online Jan. 21 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Would melamine absorbed into the body via food cause harm? According to Spaeth, "there is little human health data to adequately characterize the risk such exposure poses." However, he said that, "studies of melamine toxicity in animals indicate that ingestion can cause kidney stones, kidney damage and may induce cancer."
Spaeth said that, since scientists really have no clear idea as to the level of the danger (if any), "it is not unreasonable to try and reduce one's exposure [to melamine]" by avoiding using melamine-containing kitchenware.
He added that the same advice would apply to other plastics chemicals suspected of causing harm to humans, such as phthalates and bisphenol-A. "Avoid storing food in these products and avoid putting these in the microwave to heat food," Spaeth advised.
The most notorious episode involving melamine occurred in 2008, when the chemical was found to be widespread, and at high levels, in milk and baby formula fed to babies in China.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidney stones.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Kenneth Spaeth M.D., MPH, director, Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center, Department of Population Health, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, NY; JAMA Internal Medicine, news release, Jan. 21, 2013
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