Bisphenol A, or BPA
BPA: Its Effects on our Health and How to Avoid it
You’ve probably heard of BPA and know enough to stay clear of it. Everywhere you go, you can find water bottles and containers with stickers and the words “BPA free” on them. But what is BPA? And why is it so dangerous?
According to the Government of Canada website, BPA, or bisphenol A, is an “industrial chemical used to make a hard, clear plastic known as polycarbonate.”. BPA is found in a range of products, such as:
- plastic food storage containers, including:
- reusable water bottles
- thermal paper receipts
- certain food packaging materials
- older types of polycarbonate baby bottles
Who’s at risk?
Though the Canadian Government assures that “most Canadians [have] low to very low exposure levels of BPA that do not pose a health risk”, the potential for BPA poisoning is higher in some populations. Infants and children, especially, because of their smaller bodyweight (and their propensity to put everything in their mouth), are more adversely affected by BPA-containing products.
Why is it dangerous?
BPA is an xenoestrogen and an endocrine disruptor, which means that it affects our hormones–which means that it affects everything. Because it mimics estrogen in its shape and size, it can bind to other cells and tissues in our bodies, impairing our reproductive system as well as causing lasting harm to our immune function and brain and neurological health. It has been linked to a whole host of diseases and health conditions, such as infertility in both women and men, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Alzheimer’s, asthma, liver toxicity, immune suppression, and thyroid conditions.
Limit your Exposure to BPA
Both the Canadian and U.S. government state that the average person’s BPA exposure should not be a cause for concern, and “that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.” We would recommend, however, to exercise caution, remain vigilant, and do your research. One massive scientific review found that 100% of the 11 published studies funded by the chemical industry reported no negative effects from BPA exposure, while there are hundreds of studies that report negative effects at very low doses (lower than the levels deemed ‘safe’ by the U.S. government). So, be mindful of the kind of information you’re receiving
How can we limit our exposure to BPA?
Most of our BPA exposure occurs through our diet. Most single-use plastic water bottles and aluminum cans used to package food contain BPA, and can also be found in food storage containers and plastic cutlery. Even receipt paper contains BPA! (Though I hope you’re not eating your receipt paper.)
- Switch to a BPA-free water bottle and don’t reuse your single use plastic water bottle (I used to be a big offender of this). The Medical News website recommends seeking out bottles with a “cloudy” plastic or “frozen” look, as these do not contain BPA.
- Recyclable plastics with the codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 contain very low or negligible levels of BPA, so we would recommend using those if possible. Containers with the codes 3 and 7 have higher levels of BPA.
- Avoid microwaving food in a plastic container. This can be difficult if you bring your food to work, but there are lots of food container options on the market right now. Glass, bamboo, and even some metals. High temperatures and BPA do not mix.
- Avoid canned foods when possible. The BPA-containing coating on the inside can leach into your food.
We hope this article helped to give you a clearer picture of BPA and its potential impact on your health.
Wishing you all the best on your journey to optimum health!
Written by Theresa Faulder, Master’s in English, Certified Personal Trainer and Infofit fitness blog writer.
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