BPA Alternative May Be No Safer
The International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society met jointly in Chicago recently for an annual conference. And the ubiquitous plastic additive, BPA, was clearly on their minds. BPA has been linked to a wide range of health problems. It's an endocrine disruptor, meaning it's a chemical that resembles certain natural hormones. Enough so, in fact, that it's able to fool the body and trigger inappropriate responses at the cellular level. BPA made headlines a few years ago when it was revealed that this common plastics additive is leaching into virtually everyone's body. It's been linked to reproductive problems, obesity, cancer and even hyperactivity among children.
Although it may have been too little, too late, many concerned people—myself included—have attempted to warn the public of the danger posed by this chemical, which has been found circulating in the blood of more than 90 percent of Americans. Manufacturers finally took notice, and began offering "BPA-free" alternatives. Baby bottles are now sold in BPA-free versions, for instance. But is the most common alternative to BPA—a substance called BPS—really any safer?
No. That's according to the results of animal studies that were announced in late June in Chicago. "BPS, termed the safe alternative to BPA, may be equally as harmful to developing brains," said the study's senior investigator, Deborah Kurrasch, PhD, from Canada's University of Calgary, in a published press release. "Society must place increased pressure on decision makers to remove all bisphenol compounds from manufacturing processes." Studies showed that BPS interferes with the way the heart beats in test animals.
And there you have it. The clarion call to action. It's up to us, as consumers, to force the industries involved to remove these harmful chemicals, once and for all, from our food, water, air, land, and environment. And lest you think me melodramatic, consider this: BPA has been detected in all of these places, all over the world. It's everywhere, it's persistent, and it's not just poisoning us. Evidence suggests its effects may be multi-generational. In other words, the BPA you consume today could affect the health of your grandchildren and even your great grandchildren in the future.
Incidentally, in the past scientists believed that endocrine disruptors like BPA and BPS work by mimicking the effects of natural estrogens. Estrogens are present in both males and females, but they are primarily considered female sex hormones. But the most recent research, referenced at the Chicago meeting, discovered that BPA actually mimicked the activity of the male hormone, testosterone, in test animals' developing brains.
Endocrine Society. "Common BPA substitute, BPS, disrupts heart rhythms in females." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2014.