What is BPA and how is it harmful?
Bisphenol A (BPA) has been reported in the news as causing health problems in humans. Unfortunately, the bad news about this toxin is still evolving – A pair of recent studies links BPA with heart disease, obesity, and diabetes risk.
BPA is an organic compound that’s in used plastics, such as water bottles, the lining of canned goods, and thermal receipts. However, BPA mimics estrogen in your body and is thought to disrupt hormone function. As such, BPA is linked to several potential health problems, from infertility to developmental delays in kids to cancer.
A new study from Britain links high urinary concentrations of BPA in healthy men and women to a higher risk of heart disease 10 years later. In another new study, Chinese researchers linked high concentrations of BPA to obesity — especially belly fat — and insulin resistance (a precursor of diabetes) in middle-aged and elderly people. American researchers have found a similar connection between BPA and Type II diabetes.
Simple changes can limit your exposure to BPA and other toxins:
- Opt for fresh food. One study found that a diet of organic fresh food can reduce urinary levels of BPA and DEHP (a type of phthalate chemical which also disrupts hormone function) by more than 50% in just 3 days.
- Look for BPA-free containers. When you buy packaged foods, choose those in glass jars, aseptic packaging, and BPA-free cans.
- Store food in glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel containers. You can find BPA-free plastic containers, but some researchers have found traces of BPA in those, too.
- Shop for dry goods at the bulk bins. Pick up flour, rice, beans, dried fruit, cereal, and pasta at the bulk bins at health-food stores. Sure, you’ll put bulk-bin finds into plastic bags, but you can transfer them to BPA-free containers as soon as you get home.
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers. The heat causes BPA and other chemicals to leach into food. Similarly, don’t put plastic containers (if you have ’em) in the dishwasher.
- Don’t handle thermal receipts. These are those carbonless receipts you collect everywhere you go, from the grocery store to the gas station to the ATM. Yep, they have BPA. Refuse receipts if you have the option. If you don’t, wash your hands after handling them. BPA in thermal receipts can be absorbed through your skin, as well as ingested with food.
If you are worried you might have been exposed to chemicals, let’s get you into the clinic to get tested.
Dr. Sanjay Mohan Ram, N.D.