Bisphenol A (known as BPA) is a carbon-based, synthetic compound that is ubiquitous in modern-day life. It’s used in everything from shatter-resistant, plastic water bottles and food storage containers to cash register receipts and canned food and drink liners. Despite it being used in so many of our day to day transactions, BPA toxic effects are now very well documented in medical literature. And the findings are horrifying! Research shows this hormone-disrupting chemical causes widespread harm throughout our bodies. Here, Dr. Axe takes a closer look at BPA’s toxic effects, where this harmful chemical is hiding, and most importantly how to avoid it.
BPA is a bad news chemical that has unfortunately become a part of daily life. Dietary intake is believed to be the biggest exposure point in adults.2 Most manufacturers line food and beverage cans with BPA, so it is virtually impossible to avoid for those who eat the “typical” American (processed/packaged food) diet. Taking that into account, it’s easy to see why this endocrine disruptor is now detected in the urine of 93 percent of Americans.3 In fact, many Americans are exposed to BPA significantly above levels shown to be harmful in laboratory studies.
Despite numerous research studies documenting BPA’s toxic effects on a variety of health issues, such as fertility, obesity and diabetes, this chemical still exists in tens of thousands of consumer products today.4 Once you learn about the damage BPA can do, you will want to make sure you take measures to reduce your exposure to this dangerous chemical.
BPA Toxic Effects: How BPA Damages Your Body
BPA May Impact Fertility
One of the more disturbing toxic effects of BPA is its role in infertility. And what is really problematic is that it’s almost impossible to avoid BPA, since it is also an environmental contaminant.
In one of the most recent and robust studies, researchers from the University of Buea in Cameroon set out to see what the latest data says about the BPA-infertility connection.5 Researchers have discovered that BPA affects male and female reproductive systems, and even more alarming, it can affect the fetus in utero. In 2008, even the National Toxicology Program admitted it has some concern over current human exposure levels to BPA. The main concerns involved impacts on the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children, along with brain and behavioral impacts at doses most people are exposed to every day. 6
Exposure to BPA Can Lead to Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to all sorts of health problems, including weight gain, cancer, insomnia, arthritis, heart disease, MS and other illnesses. And BPA may play a role in Vitamin D deficiency: a September 2016 breakthrough study found that exposure to BPA may lower levels of Vitamin D in the bloodstream. The study, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found an association between exposure to higher levels of BPA and reduced vitamin D levels in women, although the relationship was not statistically significant in men.
BPA Can Lead to Obesity
In 2013, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute scientists who closely evaluated the urine BPA levels in 1,326 school-aged children from Shanghai linked BPA to obesity. They found that girls who had a higher urine BPA level were twice as likely to be obese than the average of the other children. 8
In 2011, scientists published a study that revealed details about BPA’s long link to heart disease. The PLOS One article found BPA actually changed the natural heartbeat signaling in female rates. This led to arrhythmia, an erratic beating that sometimes causes sudden cardiac death. 9
The paper clearly states that regardless of your diet and fitness levels, BPA has been shown to affect glucose metabolism through insulin resistance, pancreatic β-cell dysfunction, adipogenesis, inflammation and oxidative stress. 10
Even small doses of the chemical can do unexpected damage. A 2013 French study concluded that low, daily BPA exposures damages tooth enamel. While this was a rat study, the findings suggest that the unhealthy changes dentists witness in 18 percent of children (white marks on teeth and a brittle enamel) could be brought on by early contact with BPA. 11
Where Is BPA Hiding?
So are you buying plastic bottles that say BPA Free? This doesn’t mean that you aren’t exposed to BPA. Plastic water bottles are just one source of BPA. In fact, most people don’t realize that BPA is used for a wide variety of purposes and can be found in CDs, dental sealants, plastic dinnerware, toys and some baby bottles! BPA is also found in currency throughout the world in addition to cash register receipts issued on thermal paper and surprisingly, in food packaging.
Plus, just because a product is labeled BPA-Free, there could still be harmful chemicals in there! As consumer concerns over BPA finally got the FDA’s attention, the FDA banned the sale of baby bottles containing BPA in 2012. However, now, instead of BPA, manufacturers are using bisphenol S (BPS) and other chemicals, which recent studies are proving are just as bad (if not worse) than BPA.
Recently, reports claim that more than 80 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And, according to a 2013 study out of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, even less than one part per trillion of BPS can disrupt a cell’s normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer.
In an article published this past year in Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, the authors wrote that “Certain BPA derivatives are being considered as alternatives to BPA. However, certain of these related products display adverse effects that are similar to those of BPA.”
The Best Ways to Avoid BPA Toxic Effects
- Your best bet is to use glass and food-grade stainless steel. Both of these materials are completely safe and natural and easy to find. I recommend that you immediately start transitioning out your plastic containers and buy high-quality stainless steel (like food-grade, 18/8 stainless steel) and glass containers.
- If you can, stay away from bottled water. It’s a modern day convenience that most of us don’t need. Instead, test your tap water and invest in a high quality filter. Then fill up with a re-usable water bottle (either glass or stainless steel).
- Limit or cut out canned and processed foods. It’s well established that most of these contain BPA.
- Be aware of other products that may contain hidden BPA including lids of glass jars, aerosol cans, aluminum or metal beverage cans, and even beer kegs. A great source to consider is a database created by the Environmental Working Group. It includes 16,000 food and drink items that could be packaged in materials harboring hormone-disrupting chemical BPA.
- Many Americans are exposed to BPA which has many documented negative effects on health.
- BPA can impact both male and female reproductive systems, and even fetuses.
- Exposure to BPA may lower Vitamin D in the bloodstream.
- BPA has been linked to obesity in girls.
- Exposure to BPA can lead to arrhythmia, which can lead to death.
- High BPA levels are associated with pre-diabetes.
- BPA is found in many common household items.
- Even if a product doesn’t contain BPA, it may still contain harmful chemicals.
- To avoid BPA, limit the use of processed and canned foods.
- Use only glass or stainless steel containers.
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