BPA is Still a Concern
In my book, True Nutrition-European Secrets for American Women, I discuss the controversy over BPA; a chemical that is common in plastics and other products, such as thermal register receipts.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical that's added to a wide range of common plastics to make them more pliable. For years, it was included in plastics that coat the insides of food cans, for example. Of course, some of this "harmless" chemical leaches out into the food it's supposed to be protecting. Predictably, BPA has been leaching into our bloodstreams, too, for decades. Unfortunately, BPA exposure doesn't end with food cans or cash register receipts. BPA is also present in water bottles, toys, common household items, and even baby sippy cups. The stuff is basically everywhere. And it's largely unavoidable. In the early 2000s, the Centers for Disease Control examined blood samples collected from thousands of Americans. A whooping 93 percent of people had BPA circulating in their bloodstreams.
So what's the beef with BPA? It's an endocrine disruptor. If that doesn't alarm you, it probably should. According to the experts—in this case, the nation's endocrinologists—BPA has been linked to a wide range of hormone disorders. We're not talking PMS, either. We're talking obesity. Reproductive cancers. Fertility concerns. And, recently, hyperactivity. That's right. Children born to women exposed to high levels of endocrine disruptors like BPA during the second trimester of pregnancy are at much greater risk for hyperactivity.
Even worse, the effects of this toxin are multi-generational. Studies show that mice exposed to BPA in the womb experience brain and behavioral changes that are passed down to subsequent generations. The stuff alters their genes, and those changes are passed on for generations to come.
Did you know that according to the National Institutes of Health, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD and ADD) is one of the most common childhood disorders? And the deficits associated with ADHD can linger throughout adolescence and adulthood? Millions of our children are being diagnosed with this brain disorder, which includes difficulty paying attention, staying focused, and controlling behavior. They're being prescribed potent psychoactive drugs to treat the disorder, and the number of new cases is spiraling upwards.
Endocrine disruptors are insidious because they resemble natural hormones enough to fool the body. There are receptors for various hormones on all kinds of cells and tissues throughout the body and nervous system. Hormones are specialized proteins that are made and released within the body to trigger specific activities by cells. The system is complex, and elegant. And it's susceptible to interference from artificial compounds that happen to mimic natural hormones. Tomorrow I'll discuss the latest "safer" alternative to BPA, and why it's far from time to stop worrying about this poison in our environment.
Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Bourguignon JP, et al. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocr Rev. 2009 Jun;30(4):293-342. doi: 10.1210/er.2009-0002.
Harley KG, Gunier RB, et al. Prenatal and early childhood bisphenol A concentrations and behavior in school-aged children. Environ Res. 2013 Oct;126:43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jul 17.