With new studies linking bisphenol A, a chemical found in the linings of food and beverage cans, to diabetes and heart disease, you may be wondering what you can do to minimize your exposure. Here are some good rules of thumb for reducing your intake of BPA:
1. Buy your tomato sauce in glass jars
Canned tomato sauce is likely to have higher levels of BPA, because the high acidity of the tomatoes causes more of the chemical to leach from the lining of the can.
2. Consume fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned
In addition to their BPA-free benefit, fresh produce usually has more nutrients, which often get lost in the process of canning.
3. Purchase beverages in plastic or glass bottles
Canned soda and juice often contain some BPA.
4. Use powdered infant formula instead of ready-to-serve liquid
An assessment from the Environmental Working Group found that liquid formulas contain more BPA than powdered brands.
5. Think in terms of moderation
Follow a sensible approach, eating less of those foods that are higher in BPA.Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
It's finally becoming more common knowledge that plastic is not an inert substance, which is what its manufacturers would like you to believe. Plastic contains chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which mimic hormones in your body. Even tiny concentrations can cause problems, and you're likely being exposed from all angles. Aside from canned goods, they're found in reusable food containers, plastic wraps, water bottles, personal care products, you name it.
Plastic is used everywhere.
The Many Health Hazards of Bisphenol A (BPA)
Plastic is so prevalent that according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study, BPA was detected in the urine of 95 percent of people tested!
This is alarming when you consider the problems it's been linked to, including:
- Structural damage to your brain
- Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning
- Increased fat formation and risk of obesity
- Altered immune function
- Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, and ovarian dysfunction
- Changes in gender-specific behavior, and abnormal sexual behavior
- Stimulation of prostate cancer cells
- Increased prostate size, and decreased sperm production
I've already discussed the dangers of using plastic containers and bottles on several occasions; anytime you eat or drink something out of plastic, you risk exposure. Plastics that are worn out or scratched may leach even more chemicals into your food, as do hot beverages. Just by drinking coffee from a plastic-lined paper cup, you could be exposed to 55 times more BPA than normal.
But what's your risk when you use canned goods?
Independent laboratory tests conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected BPA in over half of 97 cans of name-brand fruit, vegetables, soda, and other commonly eaten canned goods.
There are no government safety standards limiting the amount of BPA in canned food, and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safety standard is 25 times the dose NOW KNOWN to cause birth defects in lab studies. Their safety standard for BPA has not been updated for 20 years.
But studies in the past decade have shown that low-level exposures to BPA may actually be MORE dangerous than high-level exposures!
Where traditional toxicology asserts that higher doses does greater harm, bisphenol A tests show that low doses can be the most toxic of all, partly because at low levels it can fall below the radar of your body's natural detox mechanism.
For example, one study found that a low dose of BPA produced a 70 percent higher growth rate of prostate cancer cells in lab animals than did higher doses (Wetherill et al. 2002). In another; lower doses of BPA resulted in higher rates of breast cell growth that can precede cancer (Markey et al. 2001).
Then again, just last month the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study that found higher urinary BPA concentrations were associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adults.
Perhaps our dependency on plastic plays a larger role than anyone ever imagined in the rise of the big three: cancer, heart disease and rampant diabetes?
BPA and Your Baby - What's the Risk, and What's the Solution?
As usual those most at risk are children and fetuses, which is why it's appalling to think that these chemicals are commonly used in everything from the infant formula, to the bottle it's served in, to the teething rings, and the toys your baby plays with on a daily basis.
Sadly, of all foods tested, infant formula was among the top three foods that had BPA levels of highest concern.
Just one to three servings was found to contain BPA levels that have caused serious adverse effects in animal tests. And, for 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving was found to contain enough BPA to expose an infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government's traditional "safe" level of exposure for industrial chemicals!
Although the article above recommends using powdered infant formula instead of ready-to-serve liquid varieties to cut down on BPA exposure, I want to remind you that nothing beats breast feeding when it comes to feeding your baby.
Breast milk contains antibodies, immunoglobulins, white blood cells, lactoferrin, lysosomes, bifidus factor (which helps friendly bacteria grow in the intestines to ensure acid environment), vitamin B12 binding protein, and many, many other substances. It also contains essential fatty acids that help bolster your baby's body against the impact of toxic chemicals.
And of course, if a mother follows my dietary recommendations, she will have the best chance of being optimally healthy, and her breast milk will be even more nutritious.
So remember that if you want the very best by far for your babies, breastfeed them if at all possible. But if you are going to use commercial formulas, then using a powdered formula may reduce your baby's exposure to BPA. According to the EWG's calculations, babies fed reconstituted powdered formula likely receive 8 to 20 times less BPA than those fed liquid formula from a metal can.
However, a far better option than commercial formula would be to try the Infant Formula Fortification Protocol developed by Dr. Patricia Kane and myself. In addition, the Weston A. Price Foundation has its own infant feeding recommendations, which are another healthy option.
10 More Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to BPA
1. Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby
2. Get rid of your plastic dishes and cups, and replace them with glass varieties
3. Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones
5. IF you choose to use a microwave, don't microwave food in a plastic container
6. Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel travel coffee mugs rather than plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups
7. Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it)
8. If you opt to use plastic kitchenware, at least get rid of the older, scratched-up varieties, avoid putting them in the dishwasher, and don't wash them with harsh detergents, as these things can cause more chemicals to leach into your food
9. Avoid using bottled water; filter your own using a reverse osmosis filter instead
10. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your, or your children's, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA
In the event that you do opt to use plastic containers for your food or beverages, be sure to avoid those marked on the bottom with the recycling label No. 7, as these varieties may contain BPA.
Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA (however they may contain other unsavory chemicals that you're best off avoiding by using glass instead). If in doubt, remember this handy saying from The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:
"With your food, use 4, 5, 1 and 2. All the rest aren't good for you."
Why Plastics Can Make You Sick
Two Thirds of Canned Foods Found to Have Low Levels of Potent Carcinogen
Store Your Food in Glass Not Plastic