*The Doctor
*Health Notes

Plastics and Our Health

by Laura A. Schissell, ND, DC

An estrogen-like compound, bisphenol A, (BPA), widely used in plastic products is thought to be causing an array of serious reproductive disorders in people. The compound is one of the most produced chemicals in the world, and almost everyone has at least traces of it in their bodies. Scientists found that 95 percent of the people tested had levels of BPA in their bodies that could be harmful. BPA is a component of polycarbonate plastic used to make hard plastic. It is in all plastic baby bottles as well as water cooler containers, sports bottles, microwave oven dishes, canned food liners and some dental sealants.

Several dozen scientists, including four from federal health agencies, reviewed about 700 studies before concluding that people are exposed to levels of the chemical exceeding those that harm lab animals. Infants and fetuses are most vulnerable and BPA could be posing some risk to brain development of babies and children resulting in possible neurological and behavorial effects. There is also a new study by researchers at the NIH that found uterine damage in newborn animals exposed to BPA. That damage is a possible predictor of reproductive diseases in women, including fibroids, endometriosis, cystic ovaries and cancers. Earlier studies have found early-stage prostate and breast cancer, and decreased sperm counts in animals exposed to low doses. The problem with BPA is that it doesn’t stay in the plastic. It leeches into whatever food or beverage you put in a plastic container, canned good or plastic baby bottle. And if you microwave or heat the containers or bottles, you are likely increasing the amount of BPA that leaches into your food.

BPA mimics the hormone estradiol which can trigger changes in your body such as, damage to your brain, hyperactivity, abnormal sexual behavior, increased fat formation and obesity, early puberty and disrupted reproductive cycles.

You probably can no longer completely eliminate your exposure to BPA but you can reduce it. Here are some tips to reduce your exposure to BPA and other harmful chemicals in plastics (the FDA approves 700 new chemicals per year!!). Store and use only glass containers for your food and beverages. If you must microwave, do not use plastic containers. Avoid using plastic wrap (and never in a microwave). Stop buying and consuming canned foods and drinks. Avoid using bottled water, filter your own using a good quality filter. In the event that you do opt to use plastic containers for your food, be sure to avoid those marked on the bottom with the recycling label No. 7, as these varieties may contain BPA. Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA (however they may contain other unsavory chemicals that you are better off avoiding by using glass instead).


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