BPA – Plastic Toxin

Bisphenol-a or BPA is commonly used chemical used in manufacture polycarbonate plastics which is contained in most plastic bottles, the inner linings of beverage and food cans, inks for store receipts, printers and paper money, and some cosmetics and clothing apparel. It is an endocrine system disrupting chemical that synthetically mimics the hormone estrogen. In 2004, even the CDC reported the appearance of BPA in the urine of 90 percent tested; however, they refused to say BPA was toxic.

Over the past decade, several scientists and health professionals have exposed and confirmed health hazards of BPA. However the worst part is that the Food and Drug Administration in March 2012 banned the chemical, the ban was refuted and BPA is still ubiquitous. The first nation to ban a few BPA products in 2010 was Canada and some EU nations also followed that lead.

Humans generally get contaminated to BPA from food and beverage containers that percolate BPA, mainly when heated.  In today’s plastic and recycling reliant world, it is vital to be aware of where BPA exists. In 1988, resin identification codes (RICs) were spread to classify plastic polymer types for the purpose of recycling. RICs #1, #2, #4, #5, and #6 are not likely to include BPA however RICs #1 and #6 are not recommended for repetitive human consumption. RIC #7 often contains BPA. If plastics have to be used for food and drink consumption, make sure to use #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or #5 PP (polypropylene) recycled plastic containers.

Epoxy resins containing BPA are present in the inner coating of most food and beverage cans. BPA finds its application in fungicide and is also contained in retail receipt paper or thermal paper and water-supplying hoses. Polycarbonate plastics are translucent and break-proof. Some examples of polycarbonates that are used in everyday life are baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical/dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, PVC, CDs and DVDs, and household electronics.

Malicious Effects of BPA 

BPA is linked to several deadly diseases such as breast cancer, reduced testosterone and abnormal hormone levels, besides various other disorders of the human body. Fetuses, babies and young children are more vulnerable to most damaging effects of BPA, which is quite distressing as they are the ones who are exposed most often. Studies have associated BPA to enhanced risk for the following:

Breast Cancer - Breast cancer is gradually turning out to be one of the several recognized negative consequences resulted by BPA exposure. More than 130 studies have established the correlation between bisphenol A and to illnesses such as breast cancer, obesity, and reproductive problems.

Early Puberty – While the typical age to enter into puberty in the past was at least at just over ten years, studies now show that within only one generation, this age has descended by more than a year. A few girls even develop breasts at the age of 7 years. Although there may be other factors too that are to be consider, BPA may be to culprit as well.

Research was conducted on 1151 girls between the ages of 6 and 8 in the United States over a period of two years and researchers discovered that multiple chemical groups were found to be present at high levels within the girls’ urine and about one-third of the girls attained their puberty prematurely. The research showed an association between chemicals that girls are exposed to on an everyday basis and either early or delayed development. Yet more research is required to prove the association, however, the acquired data is a significant foundation stone in assessing the impact of these widespread environmental agents on the girls health.

Heart Disease – A research has related both BPA and phthalates to a health malady known as atherosclerosis. This disorder is characterized by the hardening of the arteries through the buildup of plaques which harmfully impacts blood flow and eventually increases the danger of heart disease. This research is not the first of its kind as one other team also discovered that probability to suffer from coronary heart disease among people with higher levels of bisphenol-a in their urine increases more than twice as compared to those with lower levels.

Infertility in Males and Females – It has been found that bisphenol-a badly affects male genital development, consequently leading to compromised fertility health. A study assessed the effects of BPA on the distance between the genitalia and the anus in males known as the Anogenital distance (AGD). AGD is very significant biologically for several reasons and plays a major role in the health of individual’s fertility. Researchers discovered that exposure to BPA during pregnancy was linked with reduced AGD in male offspring. This meant that high level BPA exposure developed AGD defects in offspring.

Since AGD has been associated to fertility in males, BPA’s negative impact on the male reproductive system is significant. Men with an AGD lesser than the median which is around 52 mm (2 in) have seven times the probability of being sub-fertile than those with a longer AGD.

BPA has been associated to reproductive issues in women too. The findings of a study revealed that BPA caused reproductive problems that can distress women such as abnormal egg development. The eggs of fetuses exposed to BPA faced difficulty in forming follicles, which eventually increases the possibility of eggs dying before maturation. In addition to that, the researchers found other anomalies, showing signs that eggs would carry excess chromosomes as a result of not dividing during development. This could result in miscarriages or disorders like Down Syndrome.

Instigates Multiple Harmful Brain Alterations – This is another negative effect that can be added to BPAs long list as some research has also discovered that the chemical damages a gene essential for proper functioning of nerve cell, eventually leading to compromised brain development. Researchers of the study published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated that BPA could impair the development of central nervous system by disturbing a gene called Kcc2.

Another study discovered that exposure to bisphenol-A in early stages of life can instigate changes in gene expression. The alterations take place in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which can cause increased levels of anxiety. The study summary states that early life exposure to BPA alters sociosexual behavior in several species including humans. This study focused on the ontogeny of these behavioral effects commencing in adolescence and examined the fundamental molecular changes in the amygdala.

Obesity - Lastly BPA may be one of several factors that are responsible for the obesity plague. One study discovered that high BPA exposure is related with obesity in the common adult population in the United States. Another study examined BPA levels in the urine of children aged 6 to 19 and found that obese children were 22 percent of individuals with the highest BPA levels in their urine. About 10 percent of children who had the lowest BPA levels in their urine were obese.

Measures to Limit BPA Exposure

There have been many vague studies carried out that have discovered natural nutrients to combat BPA toxicity. However, one has to become educated to limit the use of plastics and other BPA products personally.

Some measures to limit BPA exposure are:
Avoid using polycarbonate plastic (typically RIC #7) in microwave.
Avoid intake of canned foods or beverages.
Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers particularly for hot food and drinks.
Make use of BPA-free baby and water bottles.
Wear gloves in your job of handling receipts, printer ink and paper money are another issue.

Some of the nutrients that can lower or eliminate BPA toxicity from the body are Bifidobacterium 3, Bifidobacterium Breve, Lactobacillus casei, Bacillus pumilus, Melatonin (helps in sleeping well too), Probiotics, Black Tea, Fermented Foods and Beverages, Kimchi (a Korean fermented food), Quercetin, Royal Jelly, Folic Acid - folate is the best source, and Genistein - a supplement.

The most generally tested items are probiotic strains such as Bifidobacterium 3, Bifidobacterium Breve, Lactobacillus casei, Bacillus pumilus or probiotics in general and fermented foods. Therefore, clearly whatever offers probiotics in high numbers is significant. While buying probiotic supplements, one can look for the bacteria strains that are available on the labels.