01 Oct BPA- It’s in your cans!
BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is a widely used chemical found in certain plastics and epoxy resins with which most of us come in contact on a daily basis.
Recent research has shed light on concerns regarding the safety of BPA. A study funded by the CDC found that nearly 93% of Americans have BPA in their urine.
According to the FDA, the amount of BPA which enters food from its packaging is minute and harmless. That being said, some experts believe that there is no such thing as a safe dose of BPA. This is because BPA is a xeno-hormone (a substance with a structure which mimics our hormones) and can therefore produce a great effect in very small amounts. Although there is no “definitive proof” that BPA at small doses is harmful to human health, there is room to be cautious; especially in pregnant women and young children. This month’s newsletter focuses on bisphenol A and its health effects.
Where can BPA be found?:
BPA is used in polycarbonated plastics; the hard, translucent plastic which is almost shatterproof and is often marked with #7 for recycling purposes. Of particular concern is polycarbonate containers used for foods and beverages (such as water and infant bottles, tableware, and food storage containers). Leaching of BPA from plastics occurs mainly at high temperatures or when harsh detergents are used.
BPA is also used in epoxy resins which are used to coat metal cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Its use in metal food cans inhibits rusting and prevents a metallic taste in the food. In testing, 57% of canned foods were found to be contaminated with BPA from their cans. Foods most affected are canned vegetables, soups, and pasta.
Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure.
BPA is also found in some pizza boxes made of recycled materials.
Alarmingly, BPA lines most cans containing infant formula and is used in most baby bottles. BPA has also been found in breast milk.
What are the effects of BPA?:
BPA has very low acute toxicity- this means that you won’t get sick from one-time exposure. The issue with BPA is that it mimics our hormones and therefore acts as an endocrine disruptor. Small doses, over the long term, can cause chronic toxicity.
Studies in animals have demonstrated developmental toxicity, carcinogenic effects, and neurotoxicity at low doses.
Studies in mice or rats have shown BPA can cause changes in the genital tract and breast tissue (predisposing to breast cancer); enlargement of the prostate gland; signs of early puberty; lower body weight; decline in testicular testosterone; and predisposes breast and prostate cells to cancer.
A recent study at Yale School of Medicine suggests that continuous low level exposure to BPA can affect brain function in monkeys; specifically mood, learning, and memory were disrupted.
A recent study of BPA effects in humans has found BPA levels are significantly associated with heart disease, diabetes, and abnormally high liver enzymes.
The Canadian government has labeled BPA “toxic” and, concluding that it is unsafe for young children and the environment, has announced an intention to ban BPA from use in baby bottles.
Here in the USA, the National Toxicology Program (a program of the Department of Health and Human Services of the National Institutes of Health) evaluated Bisphenol A and concluded the following regarding its risks:
Since BPA came into use in cans and plastics in the 1950’s, we’ve seen an increase in hormone-related cancers (such as breast and prostate cancers). We are also seeing more women diagnosed with more aggressive tumors at younger and younger ages. In addition, many of our teens are entering puberty at earlier ages. We’re also seeing a rise in conditions such as ADD and other learning impairments. Although these are all “multi-factorial” issues (that is, we generally can’t point to one causative factor), caution is certainly warranted; particularly since there are some relatively easy steps we can take to protect ourselves and our children from exposure.
What can I do to minimize my exposure?:
Choose glass, ceramic, porcelain or stainless steel containers; especially when serving or heating hot foods or liquids.
Don’t microwave plastic containers or place them in the dishwasher. Those which contain polycarbonates break down over time at high temperatures.
Reduce your use of canned foods; especially when pregnant or feeding young children. Eden Foods uses BPA-free cans for low-acid foods (for example, beans). Use jarred foods instead of cans, for prepared acidic foods such as tomatoes.
If you’re switching from a hard plastic water bottle to stainless steel, make sure your new bottle doesn’t have a plastic liner.
Use BPA-free baby bottles (made of polypropylene or polyethylene). If you’re using formula, make sure it is contained in a BPA-free container.
There are innumerable toxins in our environment. BPA is only one of billions. This can all be very overwhelming. As a naturopath, I advise my patients to minimize exposure whenever possible and by means which do not seriously impact one’s quality of life.
Here’s to BPA-free living!
Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND at 201-757-5558 or, through email at dr*******@ve*****.net.