Strolling through the aisles of your favorite grocery or scrolling down an online home goods store, you’ve probably come across A LOT of BPA Free Labels. And that’s good—right? Well, not completely.
BPA is dangerous and wreaks havoc on our bodies and lives– but what manufacturers are replacing BPA with is even worse. Dive into this article to learn about the health hazards of BPA, and it’s close cousins. Then discover the most accessible and most affordable switches so that you and your family can reduce BPA exposure.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and other commercial products. BPA was first discovered in the 1890s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s when chemists realized it could be combined with other chemicals to make durable plastics.
But BPA isn’t hiding in just plastics- it is also used to make epoxy resins aka the inner lining of canned foods. It lurks in food and drinks packaging, bottle tops, receipts, water pipes, plastic wrap, and baby bottles and toys– but where else?
Where is BPA found?
Here are other common places BPA is lurking:
- Food and drink packaging (cans and plastics)
- Bottle tops
- Store receipts
- Water Pipes and PVC pipes
- Some Baby Bottles
- Medical Devices
- Dental sealants
- Some newspaper ink and carbonless copy paper
- Lids of glass jars and other condiments
- Aluminum Beverage Cans
- Beer kegs
So while it seems like BPA is impossible to avoid, there are practical and easy ways to reduce exposure. I’ll get into this a little later- first, let’s get into the health risk factors of BPA.
Health Risks of BPA
At any level of exposure, BPA is responsible for wreaking havoc on the human body. For starters, BPA toxicity has been associated with adverse effects on reproduction, behavioral development, and the nervous system. This is because BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical, also known as a xenoestrogen. A xenoestrogen is a chemical that disrupts our bodies natural hormones by imitating estrogen. Xenoestrogens are a risk for breast cancer, reproductive challenges, obesity, and heart disease (1,2).
BPA’s effect on Children and Babies
As I mentioned above, BPA toxicity has been linked to behavior development issues like hyperactivity and aggressiveness. What is even more troubling is that a recent human study showed that BPA is linked with increased autism risk (1).
Now, why is this? Young children and babies have a higher exposure level for two reasons:
- BPA lingers for generations and impacts offspring. This means that your baby can be born with this hormone-disrupting chemical already inside of them- and at that point, toxicity only gets more complicated. Some studies show that BPA may cause damage to the behavior and prostate glands of fetuses, infants, and young children. Even more worrisome, studies have shown that BPA produces many embryo defects, including feminization of male fetuses, increased prostate size, atrophy of the testes and epididymides, and alteration of sperm count and density (4).
- Baby products like teethers, sippy cups, bottles, and toys all contain BPA or one of its worse cousins. While U.S. regulators have restricted or banned BPA in baby products due to the knowledge that BPA causes hormonal changes- BPA has not been banned in teethers. A study tested 59 plastic teethers, and all of them tested positive for BPA- even the ones labeled BPA FREE! (3)
When a child ingests endocrine-disrupting chemicals, they are at risk for neurological development disorders, diabetes, reproductive abnormalities, behavioral disorders, asthma, and obesity (3). Which brings us to our next point: BPA breeds obesity.
BPA Increases Risk for Obesity and Prediabetes
A new study from the Journal of Endocrine Society shows that BPA alternatives are associated with an increased prevalence of obesity in children.
Stanford researcher and professor, Dr. David Feldman was the first to discover that BPA can leach xenoestrogens into our food from plastic containers. Over time it’s become widely accepted that BPA presents health risks – especially to young children.
In 2013, scientists from the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute analyzed the BPA levels in 1,326 school-aged children’s urine. They discovered that young girls with higher urine BPA levels were two times more likely to be obese than the average of other children (4).
Regardless of your diet and exercise, BPA has been found to adversely affect glucose metabolism through insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Studies have also found that urine with high BPA levels is associated with prediabetes regardless of traditional diabetes factors (5).
BPA Linked to Infertility
Jilin Medical College in China conducted a study in 2013 and found that “long-term exposure of female mammalians to BPA can lead to endocrine disorders, followed by the morphological and functional changes in ovary, uterus, vagina, oviducts,” causing fertility issues (4).
But BPA does not only affect female reproductivity; it also disrupts male reproductivity. What we know is that BPA disrupts natural hormone balance and can cause male reproductive dysfunction and sperm dysfunction.
Men with high urinary/blood BPA levels were shown to have abnormal semen parameters (think mobility, density, count). Not only that, but men exposed to BPA also exhibited erectile ejaculatory issues and decreased libido.
BPA and Vitamin D Deficiency
We know how important it is to keep Vitamin D in our bodies- for our moods and overall health. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancer, insomnia, heart disease, M.S., weight gain, and depression.
Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism conducted a 2016 study and found that BPA exposure may decrease vitamin D levels in bloodstream (6).
Are BPA Alternatives Safe?
Can you trust BPA Free Plastics? Short answer: No way. Asides from the fact that the study conducted on 59 baby teethers that tested positive for BPA, even the ones labeled BPA free- there is a lot more going on.
We may think we’re doing ourselves a favor by purchasing the BPA free plastic containers, but how much good are we really doing? Unfortunately, new research suggests that BPA alternatives like BPS or BPF are actually not that much better than BPA.
Instead of BPA, manufacturers are turning to bisphenol S (BPS) and other chemicals, which are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than BPA.
In a study published by Toxicological Sciences, researchers tested the impact of these other chemicals on estrogen receptor activity and found that BPA alternatives are actually more dangerous than BPA itself when activating the estrogen receptor.
How to Reduce BPA and other Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical Exposure
After realizing how many things we use daily contain BPA, it might feel overwhelming even trying at all.
We understand- that’s why we are making it simple with 10 Easy Ways to Remove Plastic.
In this blog post, I offer some of my favorite alternatives like my Bee’s Wrap, Wooden Utensils, Glass Electric Kettle, Stainless Steel Water Bottles and Kids & Baby Bottles, and Silicone Food Containers.
First and foremost, be conscious when making purchases: avoid single-use Plastic, and be smart when saving, wrapping, and cooking your foods.
Now that you’ve got the down-low on everything BPA, what is going to be your first move? Were you completely shocked by any of the research, let us know in the comments below!
- “The BPA Problem and What To Do About It.” Kara Fitzgerald ND Naturopathic Doctor, 30 Apr. 2017, www.drkarafitzgerald.com/2015/04/17/the-bpa-problem-and-what-to-do-about-it/.
- “Get These Toxins Out of Your House.” Dr. Mark Hyman, 20 Sept. 2016, drhyman.com/blog/2016/07/25/get-these-toxins-out-of-your-house/.
- “Baby Teether Study Finds Many Contain Potentially Harmful Chemicals.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, www.cbsnews.com/news/baby-teether-study-bpa-endocrine-disruptors-chemicals/.
- Axe, Josh. “First-of-Its-Kind Study: Canned Food Chemical May Be Risk Factor for Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease.” Dr. Axe, 16 July 2018, draxe.com/health/detox/bpa-toxic-effects/.
- “Chemical Exposure Linked to Lower Vitamin D Levels.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 20 Sept. 2016, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160920130828.htm.