by Karen Malkin, NBC-HWC
When it comes to environmental toxins, it’s impossible to cut them out altogether, but it is possible to be informed so you can minimize your risk of exposure to them. You’ve likely heard of Bisphenol-A (BPA). However, many people do not realize the many places BPA can be found, or how it affects their health.
BPA is a chemical compound found in polycarbonate plastic that was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1960s. The hard, clear plastic has since been used widely in consumer products, including food and beverage containers, and also found in the linings of aluminum cans. Research suggests that small amounts of BPA may leach into foods or beverages stored in polycarbonate containers, especially when the contents are acidic, high in fat, or heated.
Almost 50 years after the FDA’s initial approval, in 2008, the agency revisited BPA and subsequently released the “Monograph on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Bisphenol A”. Research shows that BPA acts as a synthetic estrogen with the potential to lead to hormonal imbalances. It has been linked to many conditions, including infertility, reproductive cancers, obesity, and behavioral changes in children.
Here are a few ways to help you and your patients keep your risk of BPA-related conditions at bay:
1. Avoid canned foods
A 2011 study showed that urine levels of BPA levels were 1,221 percent higher in people who consumed canned soup for five days when compared to people who consumed fresh soup for the same time period. If you must consume canned foods, choose brands with BPA-free liners, like Eden Foods and Whole Foods 365 products.
2. Ditch plastic in the kitchen
Sweep your cupboards of plastic storage containers and replace them with glass, metal, or silicon containers and water bottles, to minimize your exposure to BPAs.
3. Have your receipts emailed
BPA is used as a heat-activated ink developer in the production of thermal receipts, such as those dispensed from cash registers, gas pumps, and ATMs. The BPA sits on the surface of slick, plastic-coated paper, and absorbs easily into the skin—especially if the skin is coated in lotion or hand sanitizer.
- Say no to paper receipts; when possible, get them sent virtually instead.
- Keep receipts in an envelope.
- Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
- Wash your hands before preparing and eating food after handling receipts.
4. Make probiotic foods a part of your daily diet
Toxins have a shelf life and, in time, an enzyme or a group of bacteria come along and break it down. Fortunately, the bacteria in probiotic foods are many of the same bacteria that get rid of BPA. For example, in 2007, researchers found that the probiotics in kimchi (a fermented food) were able to help the body detoxify BPA. In 2008, scientists found that probiotics bind to BPA, limiting the amount of BPA that makes its way into your bloodstream. Some probiotic foods include kombucha, plain yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso.
Help safeguard your health and the health of your loved ones by taking these small steps to reduce your exposure to BPA. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”