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BPA & Your Health

February 16, 2021

Most of us encounter BPA’s on a daily basis, but these pervasive chemicals carry some considerable health risks. Plastic bottles and food containers are some of the largest offenders, but even some metal packaging can bring BPA’s in contact with your food. As the FDA begins to limit the use of BPA’s, it is imperative for consumers to be aware of the risks posed by their food packaging and minimize their exposure.

What is BPA?

- Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin

- BPA can disrupt endocrine function

- BPA can interact with estrogen receptors

- BPA has a role in the pathogenesis of several endocrine disorders including female and male infertility, precocious puberty, hormone dependent tumors such as breast and prostate cancer and several metabolic disorders including polycystic ovary syndrome

- BPA has been implicated in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, & obesity

- A recent study published in JAMA examined the urine samples of 3883 adults who participated in the US National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003-2008. The study noted that participants with higher urinary BPA levels were at higher risk for death

What are the Potential Effects on Your Health?

- BPA can disrupt endocrine function

- BPA can interact with estrogen receptors

- BPA has a role in the pathogenesis of several endocrine disorders including female and male infertility, precocious puberty, hormone dependent tumors such as breast and prostate cancer and several metabolic disorders including polycystic ovary syndrome

- BPA has been implicated in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, & obesity

- A recent study published in JAMA examined the urine samples of 3883 adults who participated in the US National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003-2008. The study noted that participants with higher urinary BPA levels were at higher risk for death

Where is it Found?

- Polycarbonate plastics are found in: some food and drink packaging, water & infant bottles, impact-resistant safety equipment & medical devices

- Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes

- Primary source of exposure to BPA is through the diet (food & beverage)

- US National data sources (NHANES 2013–2014 study results) showed that BPA was detectable in over 90% of urine samples in the general population they surveyed

BPA Free: What Does it Really Mean?

    - BPA substitutes (BPF & BPS) are being created to substitute for BPA

    - But they have similar structures to BPA, and therefore have similar metabolism, potencies, and action to BPA

    - BPA substituted-based products are consumed under the label of “BPA-free”. This is presumed to be safe, but this has not been verified and these products may not be safe either

Recommendations to Decrease Your BPA Exposure

1. Avoid canned products, using fresh or frozen when possible

2. Limit packaged foods, as these can also contain BPA

    3. If using canned foods rinsing the food in water may help lower the level of BPA in the food. Bonus: Rinsing cuts back on other additives too, such as sodium on beans or sweet syrup on fruit

    4. Never heat food in the can. Transfer it to a stainless steel pot or pan for stovetop cooking, or microwave in glass – not plastic

    5. Search for your favorite foods and beverages in EWG’s BPA product list. If they are packaged in containers made with BPA, look for alternative products in EWG’s Food Scores

    6. Don’t microwave in plastic food containers. Plastics break down from use at high temperatures

    7. Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA

    8. When possible, use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for eating, particularly for hot food or liquids

    9. Use baby bottles that are BPA free

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25813067/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21605673/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387873/
  4. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2769313
  5. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/index.cfm
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6028148/
  7. https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/02/5-ways-reduce-your-exposure-toxic-bpa

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Authored by Dr. Soussan Ayubcha

(2020-2021) Integrative Medicine Fellow

Dr. Ayubcha received her Bachelors in Arts from New York University, Masters in Health Services Administration from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and her Medical Doctorate from Kigezi International School of Medicine. She was a Post Doctorate Research Associate at Queen Mary Hospital: The University of Hong Kong and thereafter completed her Residency Training in Family Medicine at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Ayubcha has practiced primary care with a predominantly underserved population in the New York City area. She also serves as a physician volunteer for Physicians for Human Rights.