Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All about BPA

I was familiar with BPA before Ed's diagnosis but had no idea why I should be concerned. This post will be two parts because I've become so overwhelmed with all the new info I'm learning and have lots to share (next will be a guide to good and bad plastics).
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a man-made carbon based synthetic compound used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins. It is an endocrine disruptor which can mimic estrogen and has been shown to cause negative health effects in animal studies. BPA is found in:
  • food and drink packaging 
  • store receipts 
  • the lining of food cans (this is the greatest use, prevents spoilage)
  • milk container linings 
  • the inside of bottle tops 
  • water pipes 
  • dental sealants 
  • polycarbonate tableware 
  • plastic wrap 
 The FDA, EU's European Chemicals Bureau, and the European Food Safety Authority have concluded that current levels of BPA present no risk to the general population, but experts in the field of endocrinology (hormone doctors) strongly disagree siting study after study proving its danger. According to The Endocrine Society "Many of the neglected studies of low-dose effects are well designed, heavily reviewed, NIH-funded work. The results of this research show significant health effects at exposures substantially lower than those deemed safe by the FDA." Click here to read the studies connecting BPA to autism, obesity, infertility, breast cancer, advanced puberty and several more major health concerns.

The infertility link hits especially close to home since I have several friends and family members that were unable to get pregnant naturally. Because of the black label drug that Ed has to take for his Leukemia I had to go to REACH Fertility Clinic to make sure we had a safe pregnancy. The process requires several visits to the doctors office and we were amazed at how packed the lobby was every appointment. Unexplained infertility seems to be an epidemic and according to 2013 data about one in six couples haven't become pregnant after a year of trying - 7,400,000 women between ages 15 and 44 used infertility services in 2012 (no clue why a 15 year old was included in these numbers...). In a study on BPA and fertility from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, lead researcher Dr. Catherine Racowsky stated "Exposure of eggs to BPA decreased the percentage of eggs that matured and increased the percentage of eggs that degenerated.... People need to be aware of the toxins in the environment and try to lead the healthiest life they can possibly lead."

Tips for avoiding BPA:
  • Cook at home with fresh foods as often as possible and avoid canned foods. Click here for a list of companies that have eliminated BPA from their canned goods - many I have never heard of but the great news is TRADER JOE'S CANS DO NOT HAVE BPA!! (with the exception of soups, sardines, crab, clams, oysters, mandarins, artichokes and organic baked beans). I have become a huge fan of Trader Joe's and do most of my grocery shopping there - all their branded food is also GMO free! In 2012 Campbell's stated they will start phasing out BPA from their cans but have been shady about revealing what they will replace it with - many BPA free are being replaced with it's ugly cousin BPS which is just as nasty, just works a little slower. 
  • Decline receipts for frivolous purchases and keep them away from young children. Put receipts you need in an envelope or box right away and don't let them hang out in your purse. The amount of BPA in receipts can be 1,000 times that found in cans and retails workers carry an average of 30% more BPA in their bodies than typical adults. Target, Starbucks and Bank of America ATM receipts are all BPA free. This is a weird one to me - would have never in a million years guessed that receipts could be toxic. I tell the cashier that I don't need a receipt and hope I don't need to return something....
  • Be skeptical of plastic and opt instead for glass or food-grade stainless steel. I'm researching the good, bad and ugly of plastics and it looks like I'll be replacing my current BPA-free storage containers, ugh. Will share what I learn in my next post.
  • ALWAYS place plastic dishes (even BPA-free ones) on the top rack of the dishwasher and NEVER microwave your plastic dishes. Even if it says microwave safe I don't trust it. Heat makes BPA leach out more - also keep water bottles out of a hot car.

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