5 Ways BPA Affects Your Health (And How to Avoid it)
As you may know, Bisphenol A (BPA) is an an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in common plastic products, such as baby bottles, children’s toys and the linings of most food and beverage cans. This is a bummer, especially when we learn that many scientific studies have found strong links between BPA exposure and serious health problems, including developmental problems in the brains and hormonal systems of our children. BPA is already banned in Canada and the European Union.
Despite the mounting evidence, the Federal Food and Drug Administration still says BPA is safe (even though it did OK a ban on BPA in baby formula packaging, bottles and sippy cups).
Here are five examples of why they’re wrong, and how you can minimize this harmful chemical in your own life:
1. Miscarriage and Infertility
CBS News recently reported that, “A new study presented Oct. 14 at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) annual meeting in Boston found women with the highest levels of BPA, or bisphenol A, in their blood were significantly more likely to miscarry than women with the lowest levels of the ubiquitous chemical.”
2. Atypical Social Behaviors
A 2011 study found links between fetal exposure to endocrine-disrupting BPA and impaired social functioning in childhood. In the study, researchers followed 137 mothers and their children from New York City for nine years as part of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Study. They measured concentrations of endocrine disrupting compounds in the mother’s urine during the third trimester of pregnancy, including phthalates and BPA. They found that moms exposed to BPA and phthalates during pregnancy reported a higher occurrence of difficult interpersonal and social awareness skills, similar to symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.
Just a few months ago, a University of Michigan study found that children who have higher levels of BPA in their blood had a higher odds of obesity and adverse levels of body fat. According to Science Daily: “The study found that higher odds of obesity, defined as a BMI above the 95th percentile on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth curves, was associated with higher levels of urinary BPA. Researchers also found that children with higher BPA levels also were more likely to have an abnormal waist circumference-to-height ratio.”
USA Today reported on a September study, published by Tufts University’s Ana Soto, that found BPA increased the risk of mammary cancer in rats. (Editor’s note: Care2 does not endorse animal testing and believes there are viable alternatives to medical research that do not involve the testing or killing of animals.) In two studies of rhesus monkeys published last year, other researchers found that BPA disrupted egg development, damaged chromosomes and caused changes in the mammary gland that made animals more susceptible to cancer. While it may be too soon to draw a causal link between BPA and breast cancer, an earlier report from the UK “highlights how much evidence there is that this chemical affects the structure and development of the mammary gland, increases breast density, and disrupts DNA. All of these factors are known to increase the risk of developing breast cancer.”
5. Kidney and Heart Disease
In January 2013, a study conducted at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York found that BPA may raise a child’s risk for developing heart problems or kidney disease by the time they are adults. “The researchers divided children into four groups based on the amount of BPA in their urine samples (from lowest to highest), and found that children exposed to the highest levels of BPA had more albumin [a protein that indicates kidney damage] in their urine compared to kids with the lowest BPA levels,” reported CBS News. “Those findings remained true when comparing the high BPA group to the general population, and even even when ruling out other potential factors that can influence health, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes), exposure to tobacco smoking, socioeconomic status and a child’s weight.”
How to Avoid BPA
While not evidence of causation, each study that’s added to the pile indicates troubling links between this ubiquitous chemical and serious health issues. So how do we rid ourselves of BPA? Complete elimination may be impossible, as we’ve all already been exposed, but here are some ways to minimize exposure moving forward:
- Eat fewer canned foods, including prepared soups, vegetables, sauces, soda and beer.
- Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers.
- Choose toys, bottles and other products that are BPA-free. Look for soft or cloudy plastic rather than hard and clear.
- Say ‘no thanks’ to the receipt. Cash register receipts contain higher quantities of BPA than other sources.
- Use powdered infant formula. Of course, breastfeeding is best, but if that’s not an option, avoid pre-mixed liquid formulas in cans.
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