The Surprising Places BPA is Lurking
Here is another chapter in the book of “being an educated consumer”. BPA as you know is a harmful chemical that was widely used in most plastic goods until studies surfaced in roughly 2008. After the reports were published of BPA’s estrogenic effects, major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target began pulling baby bottles and sippy cups off their shelves to replace them with the new BPA free varieties..
What does BPA do to us?
Bisphenol a is an endocrine disruptor – a substance which interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function and elimination of natural hormones. BPA can imitate our body’s own hormones in a way that could be hazardous for health. Babies and young children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects of BPA. Here is a list of potential side effects courtesy of medical news today.
- Reproductive disorders – scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital showed that BPA exposure can affect egg maturation in humans.
- Male impotence – Dr De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, California, reported in the journal Human Reproduction that BPA exposure may raise the risk of erectile dysfunction. Sexual desire and problems with ejaculation were also linked to BPA exposure among men.
- Heart disease (females) – BPA can cause heart disease in women, scientists at the University of Cincinnati found.
- Heart disease in adults – another US study linked BPA exposure to diabetes and heart disease in adults.
- Sex hormones in men – an August 2010 study linked BPA exposure to changes in sex hormones in men.
- Type 2 diabetes – A UK study linked higher levels of urinary BPA to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver-enzyme abnormalities.
- Brain function, memory, learning – US researchers linked BPA exposure to loss of connections between brain cells in primates, potential problems with memory and learning, as well as depression.
- Women’s eggs – Californian researchers found that exposure to bisphenol A may affect the quality of a woman’s eggs retrieved for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Chemotherapy – University of Cincinnati scientists found that BPA exposure may reduce chemotherapy treatment efficacy.
- Breast cancer – A Yale School of Medicine study found a possible increase in breast cancer risk among females exposed to BPA and DES (Diethylstilbestrol) in the womb.
- Asthma – A US study suggested a link between increasing asthma rates and a particular threshold of BPA.
That is a long list! Now that we know specifically why this toxin should be avoided, lets look at the most common places it is still widely used.
“To go” and pizza boxes – Not to be a drag, but I thought it’s important that we all know about this one. BPA is used to create a sturdier box. Unfortunately, when hot food goes inside, it can crank up exposure levels. Look for (or ask about) boxes and cartons made from just cardboard.
Canned food – This is a big one, many tin cans are still lined with BPA. Some manufacturers such as “Garden Of Eden” and some Trader Joe’s products have made the switch to BPA free cans. If you have a canned good that is a staple in your home, like garbanzo beans are for us, best advice is to contact the brand you like and see if they have switched to BPA free cans. Within my research I have noticed that most manufacturers have not made a 100% switch, making it difficult to provide a list of BPA free brands. This is because if the food contained is acidic, such as canned tomatoes, there will most likely still be BPA. Even worse is that the more acidic the food, the more BPA is able to leech into the product. Canned tomatoes are a big no-no.. Always buy jarred tomato product if possible.
Soda Cans – Well, here’s another reason not to drink soda. Just like with canned food, soda cans are frequently lined with BPA to make the products more shelf-stable, and the cans more resilient.
Water bottles – If your water bottle is marked with recycle code #7 – it most likely contains BPA. Always use a water filter and glass water bottle when possible.
The news continues…
As time goes on, more products labeled “BPA free” surface on retailers shelves. Plastics companies are doing their best to give us options free of this toxin. The problem is that the BPA has to be replaced with something… Newer reports show that some of the readily available alternatives may not be a better option. You can bet the large plastic companies are in no hurry for new studies be unveiled. Do your best to avoid plastics for food storage all together. And if its unavoidable, be sure to keep these containers away from heat sources such as microwaves, dishwashers and the suns UV rays. Lean towards glass and silicone if possible, especially for the kiddos.