You may have heard about Bisphenol A, also known as BPA. It’s a chemical compound used in the manufacturing of plastics — like food containers, plastic wrap, and water bottles. Lately there’s been some controversy over whether or not it’s harmful to our health. Well, it is.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found it can contribute to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and liver enzyme abnormalities. This one-year study surveyed nearly 1,500 adults. It found that those with the highest levels of BPA had a 39% increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. That’s a huge increase!
BPA is everywhere, and all of us have been exposed to it. In fact, more than 90% of all of us in this country already have detectable amounts in our bodies. This isn’t surprising when you realize that seven billion pounds are produced every year. And there’s no place for this chemical to go when we finish using BPA-laced products — except into landfills. There they break down slowly, releasing this toxic chemical.
There’s been an emphasis recently on replacing the drinking water bottles we carry around with glass, stainless steel, or BPA-free plastic bottles. This makes sense, because BPA leaches out of these plastic bottles when they’re heated – like when sitting in a hot car.
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I expect we’ll see government regulations banning or reducing BPA in plastics in the near future. Canada has already named it as a major environmental contaminant. But in the meantime, there’s something you can do to limit your exposure.
Get a good home water filtration system and fill your BPA-free water bottles with the same quality drinking water you’ve been buying by the caseload. It’s more convenient and less expensive.
Whenever you can, buy products in glass rather than plastic.
Buy a few stainless steel or BPA-free plastic water bottles to carry with you. You can find both at REI and other sporting goods stores.
This situation is a matter of supply and demand. Buy less water in regular plastic bottles and less of them will be sold. Choose foods in glass containers and more products will be packaged in them.
Tell your relatives and friends to stop using plastic baby bottles. Infants and young children are most easily affected by BPA. It’s time to go back to the old-fashioned glass bottles for baby formulations and juices.
Most importantly, don’t let any heated plastic come in contact with any foods or beverages. That’s when they’re most dangerous. Remember that studies are already emerging that found BPA harmful to our health. Make some changes today to minimize your exposure.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
JAMA, 300: 1303-1310,1353-1355, September 17, 2008.