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Tired? Overweight? Moody? Plastic Is Disrupting Your Hormones!

Before you read the rest of this article, stop and think about how much plastic you use on a daily basis. Go ahead, think about it - plastic keyboard, plastic water bottle, plastic tooth brush, plastic sandwich bags, plastic yogurt container, etc, etc, etc. All of us are literally drowning in plastic. Billions of pounds of plastic are found polluting our oceans and the amount of plastic thrown away each year is enough to circle the Earth four times. These environmental facts about plastic are disturbing, but what is even more alarming is that bisphenol A (BPA), a harmful chemical found in plastic, is now found in almost every American's body. BPA has been linked to many health conditions, including disruption of hormone levels, increasing risk for cancer, and cardiovascular problems.

What is BPA?

BPA is a structural component in many beverage bottles and metal can coatings. It is a chemical compound used to create polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins and has been used in food packaging since the 1960s.

Why it is harmful?

Over time, BPA leaches from the plastic and migrates into the foods we consume. Although the quantity of BPA released is low, the use of plastic is so widespread, that exposure levels are typically very high. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control found that nearly 93% of Americans age 6 or older tested positive for BPA, with females having slightly higher numbers than males. BPA mimics estrogen, thus harming brain and reproductive development in fetuses/children and disrupting hormonal balance in adults.

Are BPA-free products better?

The market for BPA-free plastic products has expanded in recent years. Instead of BPA, these plastics contain bisphenol S (BPS), which was thought to be more resistant to leaching from the plastic. However, nearly 81% of Americans have detectable BPS in their urine. BPS can harm the body in similar ways as BPA. Research has been shown to cause irregular heartbeats in female lab rats and change how rats' cells respond to estrogen. BPS has also been shown to disrupt prenatal brain development and stimulate human breast cancer cells at a slightly higher rate than BPA does.

What can you do?

  1. Be aware of all the potential sources of BPA and BPS (from plastic and cans) you come into contact with in your day to day life. Try to limit your exposure to these sources.

  2. Avoid drinking from plastic water bottles (even those labeled BPA-free) whenever possible.

  3. Use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel instead of plastic.

  4. Avoid using hand sanitizers. Studies have shown using hand sanitizers (such as Purell) prior to touching plastic products increases BPA absorption into the body. This is caused by chemicals in hand sanitizers that make skin more permeable to various substances, including BPA.

  5. Avoid consuming the following canned foods (most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin): coconut milk, soup, meat, vegetables, meals, juice, fish, beans, meal replacement drinks, fruit.

  6. Avoid heating your food in plastic containers, dishwashing your plastic containers, or drinking water in heated water bottles (bottles left in the car during the summer!). Heat can cause the plastic to break down and allow BPA to leach into the foods.

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