3 Ways Plastic Straws are Devastating for Your Health

We all know how horrible plastic straws are for the environment. In fact, my local coffee shop just made the switch over to no straws (unless you ask for one—then you get a paper one). But the environment’s health isn’t the only reason you should start saying no to plastic straws. They’re actually pretty horrible for your health, too.

How Plastic Straws Harm Your Health

 

Here are three important ways plastic straws can hurt your body.

1. They can encourage cavities.

Drinking sugary drinks out of a plastic straw compresses all of that sugar into one stream. When that stream comes in contact with an area of your teeth, it introduces loads of harmful sugar into hard-to-reach places and encourages the formation of cavities.

If you enjoy an occasional soda, do so without a straw to ensure that no single area of your mouth receives the full sugary brunt.

2. They are chemical cocktails.

Plastic straws are generally made from petroleum-derived polypropylene. While the FDA currently considers this material safe for food contact, there is evidence that it can leach chemicals into liquids that disrupt hormones—particularly estrogen levels.

This endocrine disrupting phenomenon is true even for BPA-free plastics, and it’s not just heat that causes these chemicals to leach out of your straw. Even small amounts of high acidity and UV light can break down these harmful compounds and infuse them into your drink. No, thank you.

Plastics generally also contain chemical additives, like diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)—known as phthalates—that can build up in the body and potentially become carcinogenic over time. Phthalates may also impair immune function and promote early onset puberty, obesity, diabetes and hyperactivity. Phthalate-containing plastic straws are not as innocuous as they seem.

Pink lemonade zero waste

3. They speed up soda and alcohol consumption.

It is very likely that, if you’re using a straw, you’ll drink more sugary or alcoholic beverages than you would if you were just sipping straight. Straws allow us to drink faster, but we aren’t great at accurately estimating how much we consume when we use them.

Both sugar and alcohol are highly inflammatory to the body, so if you always drink them with a straw, you may be encouraging yourself to drink more than you want to.

An Important Note

For disabled people, sometimes plastic water bottles and plastic straws are the only option to drink independently.

If you’re a business owner moving away from single-use plastics, consider keeping a few plastic straws or reusable silicone straws on hand in the back for people who truly need them. Paper straws are too flimsy for these purposes.

Dozens of cities across the US have banned plastic straws. Mega-chains like McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks have started shifting away from them, too. So do yourself a favor. If someone offers you a plastic straw, say no thanks.

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28 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Justin M
Justin M6 months ago

Thanks

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Sonia M
Sonia M6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

Using a straw is a good option if drinking from a bottle or carton that may have been handled by someone with dirty hands or run over by rodents in the back stores. A paper straw will do.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

The cavity issue doesn't wash unless you suck the liquid onto a tooth some way. Mainly you need a straw to stop acidic or sugary liquid like orange juice or cola from washing onto the two front teeth as you sip. So this stops your front teeth being eroded. A paper straw will do.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

I do not see that the liquid will be in contact with the straw for very long so that probably doesn't count. More importantly is how the liquid was stored before you got it.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

th

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Virginia Miller
Virginia Miller6 months ago

Thanks

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE6 months ago

Good to make people aware of their faults to humans and not to the environment. Perhaps fewer people will use them (?)

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Mona M
Mona M6 months ago

Thank you, an important article to share and re-post even if we have never used plastic straws.

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