Bisphenol A, better known as BPA, makes an appearance in our everyday lives. Where do you find it? Try reusable plastic products- like food storage containers, water bottles, canned products, or even baby bottles.
Manufacturers use this chemical to harden plastics, and as a result, over 90% of us have BPA in or bodies at this very moment (1). You heard that right- the majority of us have a potentially toxic chemical running through us right now.
Why is BPA dangerous?
For almost 40 years, the FDA expressed no concern about BPA levels in products. It wasn’t until 2010 that research observed the harmful impact BPA can have on the brain and behavior of animals (1). That being said, the FDA decided to extend the warning to humans, especially infants and children in early developmental stages. At this point in time, their bodies are not as efficient at eliminating toxic substances (1).
According to BreastCancer.org, “In 2011, a study found that pregnant women with high levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have daughters who showed signs of hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression. The symptoms were seen in girls as young as 3. It’s not clear why boys aren’t affected in the same way” (3).
BPA & the body
Research demonstrates that BPA may cause an increased risk of cancer in those exposed to it. There were also results that demonstrated a higher incidence of heart issues, diabetes, ADHD, and obesity.
The Estrogenic Effect
In a scientific context, BPA is commonly called “environmental estrogen.” What does this mean, you ask? Basically, BPA has been shown to interact with estrogen receptors in the body (2). These are little proteins inside of cells control how our body physically responds to hormones. Unfortunately, BPA can look a lot like estrogen to these receptors. When interacting with the receptor, it has a couple of options:
- Acting as an agonist: BPA can cause a physiological response when it interacts with the estrogen receptor
- Acting as an antagonist: BPA can stop a physiological response from happening when it interacts with the estrogen receptor
By mimicking estrogen, BPA can throw off your body’s hormonal balance. There has been evidence of it causing severe endocrine disorders in men and women, hormone dependent tumors, and even issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (2).
Mice exposed to BPA in a fetal stage developed uterine, ovarian, and vaginal abnormalities. Other animal studies revealed an increased risk of early puberty and genetic abnormalities in eggs (4).
How to Avoid BPA
A Guide to Plastics (3).
- No.1 PETE/PET: clear plastic water & soda bottles
- No. 2 HDPE: detergent, shampoo, and body wash bottles. Opaque drink bottles.
- No. 3 PVC: plastic food wrap and cooking oil bottles.
- No. 4 LDPE: bread bags, squeezable bottles, other food wraps, and some grocery bags.
- No. 5 Polypropylene: straws, medicine bottles, yogurt containers, etc.
- No. 6 Polystyrene/Styrofoam: disposable foam cups and plates.
- No. 7 Other or Mix of Plastics: baby bottles, CD cases, compact discs, BPA containing products
- PLA: biodegradable! Found in some food packaging, feminine hygiene products, diapers, disposable cutlery, and packing material