The Hidden Danger in BPA-Free Products
BPA-free products may not be any safer than their outlawed cousins.
BPA, short for the chemical bisphenol-A, which is commonly found in tin can linings and plastic, has been linked to different cancers, asthma, heart disease, and endocrine system dysfunction. Even though the Food and Drug Association deems it safe, it has banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging in 2012. The Industry responded to the ruling with a chemical that is not BPA, but close. It’s called BPS or bisphenol-S and it may not be any safer than the original.
Just how scary is bisphenol-S?
According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health, products containing BPS may leach the type of estrogenic chemicals similar to BPA. Each week there seems to be a new study showing the havoc that bisphenols wreak on our bodies. Here is just a sampling of studies citing its harmful effects from the first three months of 2015 alone:
- Exposure to BPA during pregnancy can cause oxidative damage that may put the baby at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease later in life, according to a January 2015 study published in Endocrinology.
- Washington State University researchers have found a direct link between BPA, and disrupted sperm production. Writing in the journal PLOS Genetics in January 2015, they say the chemical disrupts the delicate DNA interactions needed to create sperm.
- Exposure to BPA may be linked to a dental abnormality in children called molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), which affects approximately 18 percent of children ages 6 to 9, according to research presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego in March 2015. MIH causes white or brown opaque spots on an affected child’s permanent first molars and incisors (the middle four teeth on the top and bottom), which become sensitive, painful and prone to cavities. The crazy thing about this research is that it might help answer what is the cause of MIH. Until now, it was thought to have environmental origins, but from where was unclear.
And while this all seems doom and gloom, there has been some good news: Eating soup from a can that is treated with BPA may not raise the levels in the blood, according to a study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.
Considering this research was done by two government agencies—the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory—in conjunction with the American Chemical Society, it’s a well-designed study that illustrates that there is a lot for us to learn about how this chemical is transferred to our bodies and its effects on our health.
So what should you do in the meantime? Stay away. Try to eliminate any number 7 plastics, such as hard-plastic toys, straws, glasses and food containers, from your life. Reach for glass and stainless steel when available. Stay away from other items known to have bisphenol, such as thermal paper, receipt paper, FedEx waybills, medical imaging results (e.g., ultrasounds), and deli meat paper. And it might not be a bad idea to say bye-bye to BPA-free.
Carey Rossi is a writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering all aspects of nutrition and fitness. She was the editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition, a shopping magazine for natural living, and the founding editor of Muscle & Fitness Hers. In addition, her work has appeared in Muscle & Fitness, Looking Good Now, Healthy Family, Vegetarian Times and Natural Health. She is the author of No More Diets Ever, Lose Weight the Natural Way.