I’ve wanted to tell you about Bisphenol A, also called BPA, for a while. It’s one nasty toxin that accrues as a body burden and is found in so many of today’s products.
Created in 1891, BPA quickly became a staple in plastic production. But in 1938, researchers discovered that it acts as an artificial estrogen. Manufacturers continued using it and added the BPA byproduct, Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether metabolite (BADGE-40H), in the 1940s and 1950s to form epoxy resins that line food cans.1
One of the big problems with BPA is that small doses stimulate more estrogen production – and because exposure typically occurs in little bits at a time, estrogen increases without producing any warning signs. If BPA was given in a large dose – which it’s not – estrogen production actually would shut down, drawing attention to the exposure.2 The increased estrogen is problematic, because some forms of breast cancer are influenced by high estrogen levels.3
Aside from breast cancer, exposure to BPA also is linked to:
- Abnormalities in brain and liver function;
- Altered behavior of more than 200 genes;
- Birth defects to the male and female reproductive systems, including permanent changes to the genital tract, damage to eggs, increased anogenital distance in both sexes, sperm reduction, and early sexual maturity;
- Cardiovascular disease;
- Change to infants’ behavior and brains (According to watchdog organization the Environmental Working Group, BPA “affects the developing brain and reproductive systems of animals exposed to low doses during pregnancy and early life”);
- Changes in mammary gland tissue;
- Chromosome damage;
- Disrupted endocrine system;
- Interrupted cell function in fetuses, infants, and children;
- Mood disorders;
- Polycystic ovarian disorder (a cause of infertility)
- Prostate cells that are more sensitive to cancer and increased prostate weight.4
An additional problem with BPA is conflicting research. According to Frederick vom Saal of the University of Missouri, no FDA studies directly financed by the chemical industry have found faults with BPA; the FDA claims that BPA is safe. But alarmingly, ninety percent of independent studies have found faults with the chemical. 5
The scariest factor of BPA is that it’s everywhere, silently adding to everyone’s body burdens. From polycarbonate water bottles and baby bottles to canned food, exposure to BPA is an everyday occurrence. Join me again next week, when I’ll explain where it’s found, along with some suggestions on how to avoid it.
1. “Timeline: BPA from Invention to Phase-Out.” Jane Houlihan, Sonya Lunder, Anila Jacob. Environmental Working Group. April 2008. “Across Generations: About the Chemicals.” Environmental Working Group.
2. “Bisphenol A Warning Bells.” Ottawa Citizen. May 4, 2007.
3. “Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours.” P.D. Darbre, et al. Journal of Applied Toxicology.
4. “Toxic Plastics Chemical in Infant Formula.” Jane Houlihan and Sonya Lunder. Environmental Working Group. Aug. 8, 2007. “No BPA for Baby Bottles in U.S.” Lyndsey Layton. Washington Post. March 6, 2009, p. A06. “BPA Chemical Leaches from Hard Plastic Drinking Bottles Into the Body Study.” Catharine Paddock. Medical News Today. May 22, 2009. “Water pollution caused by cosmetic chemicals, cleaning supplies and plastics.” Rebecca Sutton and Jen Jackson. Environmental Working Group. July 2007.
5. “Bisphenol A Warning Bells.” Ottawa Citizen. May 4, 2007. “No BPA for Baby Bottles in U.S.” Lyndsey Layton. Washington Post. March 6, 2009, p. A06.
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