I'm was on Dr. Oz last week talking about my concerns about BPA and I wanted to give you more details about where BPA hides and why you should be avoiding BPA. BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical that acts as a synthetic estrogen. This means that BPA disrupts our own hormone levels and hormone balance. This chemical can be found frequently in food storage containers, including plastics and cans, including soda cans. What people may not realize is that BPA can leech into the food or a liquid that they're consuming if it has been stored in a can or bottle containing BPA.
The FDA recently released two studies about the safety of BPA that they believe supports their current safety limits, but they do state that there are going to be longer studies on going. Here's the rub though, the two studies they did were conducted in rodents. There have been over 90 studies of BPA on humans, and more than 50 of these were published in the past year! We are only just starting to the effects of BPA on humans and it seems to be much different than the effects we're seeing in rats. A large study reviewing the effects of BPA on human health was published in December, 2013. The authors concluded that there is "increasing support that environmental BPA exposure can be harmful to humans."
We are just beginning to understand the enormity of this problem. We as consumers need to be conscious and aware and demand BPA-free products. This past year the FDA outlawed the use of BPA in baby-related products. This was in response to a plea from manufacturer's that had already stopped using BPA in their products due to consumer demands. France plans on outlawing BPA in all food-related products by 2015. Why is it that the U.S. is so far behind in protecting our consumers? We need to be savvy consumers and continue to send the message to manufacturers that we will not accept products manufactured with BPA.
As an OB/GYN and hormone-replacement therapy specialist, I always discuss with my patients the importance of trying to avoid BPA. In the scientific review of BPA mentioned above, BPA was shown in studies to increase growth of fibroid tumors in the uterus and interfere with fertility treatments and was also linked to development of diabetes or a heart attack and may even increase the risk of breast cancer. Because BPA is a synthetic estrogen (xenoestrogen) it has the potential to lead to hormonal imbalances, especially an overload of estrogen which may result in fatigue, weight issues, anxiety, poor sleep and other potential health concerns, causing suffering needlessly and unknowingly.
BPA can be found almost anywhere. So although it may be difficult to eliminate from your life entirely, there are steps you can take to protect your family from the dangers of consumer-based toxins.
Here are some tips to help reduce your BPA exposure:
- Stop buying plastic water bottles that don't have a recycle code of 1, 2 or 5. You can also opt for a reusable, BPA-free, stainless steel or glass water bottle.
- If you are using a plastic water bottle, you should avoid drinking from any that have been frozen and/or exposed to sunlight or high temperatures.
- Store leftover foods in glass containers instead of plastic.
- Remove all cellophane or plastic wrap before microwaving any food. The heat can cause the chemicals to contaminate your food.
- Automatic, plastic coffeemakers may also contain BPA. As the plastic is heated, BPA can leech out into your coffee. An old-fashioned French press is great alternative.
- Cut down on canned foods. Recent studies have showed that BPA levels were 1,221 percent higher in people who consumed canned soup for five days, when compared to people who consumed fresh soup for the same time period.
- Look for canned food labeled "BPA free" from brands like Eden Foods and others.
- Avoid handling receipts that are printed on thermal paper. BPA is used as a color developer for the dye the printer uses. You can always ask for the cashier to put the receipt in the bag to avoid contact.
Reducing exposure to chemicals like BPA is one big step you can take for your and your family toward improving your overall health.