BPA aka Bisphenol A has re-appeared in the media due to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Harvard researchers found significant levels of BPA in participants who consumed canned soups over freshly prepared soups. Some of you may recall the previous uproar about BPA and its use in the production of plastic baby bottles and other infant products. Unfortunately, this chemical is still used throughout a majority of the U.S. despite pressure from the American Medical Association. Eleven U.S. states have taken heed to these warnings by banning (or are in the process of banning) the use of BPA in infant feeding containers. Earlier this summer China banned the chemical from baby bottles, joining Canada, the European Union, and the United Arab Emirates.
But why should we be concerned?
BPA is a chemical adulterant in our food supply which poses a potential health risk (great, another to add to the list!). It serves as yet another example of chemicals prematurely used in our food supply, before adequate testing is done. And guess who is the testing participants…you and I (read more)! BPA is so widespread that some estimates suggest that it can be detected in 93% of Americans. It’s used in the production of plastic bottles, soda cans, food containers and even cash register receipts. This organic chemical is what is considered an endocrine disruptor, because it mimics the functions of normal hormones in the body. Hormones of our endocrine system are responsible for a host of essential functions in the body including: growth, metabolism, sexual development and proper function, salt and water balance, stress responses, and immunity (just to name a few). With this understanding, there is no wonder as to why there is growing evidence linking the chemical to health concerns such as cancer, sexual dysfunction and abnormalities, obesity, and heart disease.
More is becoming available where BPA exists in our food supply, making it easier to make better decisions when we are at the supermarket. And even though BPA is used in thousands of consumer goods, we can do our part in reducing our risk and that of our family. Below are steps we can take to avoid BPA (as much as possible at least!).
- Avoid plastic containers marked with the recycling code #3, #6, and #7 or the letters “PC” (polycarbonate). Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2, #4 and #5 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA.
- Avoid putting any plastic containers in microwaves all together (even if it’s a-better-choice plastic; we never know what research might prove in the future). Washing a ceramic plate will only take a few seconds!
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand.
- Try to avoid canned goods as much as possible since almost all canned foods sold in the U.S. have a BPA-based epoxy liner that leaches BPA into the food.
- The highest concentrations of BPA are found in canned meats, pasta, and soups, so avoiding these food products would be a great place to start.
- Rinse canned fruit or vegetables which may reduce the amount of ingested BPA.
Remember, take it one day at a time and one food product at a time. Every change is a process! And your journey to taking back control continues…