Hormone Havoc from Plastic Food Packaging

Plastic food packaging is lightweight, convenient and almost unavoidable. So the fact that it might be contaminating your food is a cause for concern. Can plastic food containers really be a health hazard?

There's no quick and easy answer to that question. What we do know is that chemical compounds of plastic are turning up in human blood levels, so you are being exposed. That's hardly surprising since we live in a plastic world.

Most of us start our day by squeezing toothpaste from a plastic tube onto a plastic toothbrush. Then we pour cereal into a bowl from a plastic bag and top it with milk from a plastic jug. After working all day on a plastic computer keyboard, we come home and heat up some soup from a can lined with – yes, plastic.

And then there's quenching your thirst from plastic water bottles…

The Main Ingredient

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is the primary component of polycarbonate, the hard clear substance used in plastic food packaging. The FDA has declared BPA safe for use in plastic food containers, but numerous clinical studies are confirming that BPA is toxic. It is interesting to note that the FDA has been criticized by its own scientific advisory board for making their decision based on research funded by the plastics industry.

A Harvard study released in 2009 was the first to make a clear connection between drinking from plastic water bottles containing BPA and an increased level of BPA in the urine. This study came about almost by accident.

Karin Michels, associate professor at the School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, noticed a lot of her students constantly swigging drinks from plastic water bottles. She warned them that they might want to limit their BPA exposure. The students wondered just how much BPA they might be getting and decided to find out.

77 students switched to drinking cold beverages from stainless steel bottles for a week to flush BPA from their systems. During that week, they provided baseline urine samples. They then switched back to drinking from BPA bottles for another week. In the final analysis, urine levels of BPA had gone up by 69%. (1)

Not the Usual Toxin

BPA is not a toxin in the usual sense. Asbestos, for instance, has a clear impact on the body and leads to cancer. BPA leached into the body from plastic food packaging doesn't translate to immediate harm. Instead, it acts like a hormone and disrupts the endocrine system. The excess estrogen activity it causes can lead to higher risk of certain cancers, birth defects, diabetes and reduced fertility. (2)

Because BPA affects the body by mimicking natural hormones, the results may not show up for years. Research will have to be conducted for decades before evidence of harm done by plastic food containers and plastic water bottles is conclusive.

Canada has decided not to wait that long. It is the first country to officially declare BPA a toxic chemical, which could lead to a ban on food-related use in the near future. Other countries, including the U.S., have adopted a "wait and see" approach. (3)

As I mentioned earlier, it would be very hard to eliminate the use of plastic from your life. But if you want to limit your personal exposure to BPA, there are a few things you can do.

  • Use water bottles that are labeled BPA-free, or go back to glass.
  • Don't microwave food in plastic containers – the heat speeds up transfer of BPA into the food.
  • Look for soups and milk packaged in cardboard cartons that are lined with alternate materials.
  • Don't use plastic wrap to store food.

Plastic food packaging has become part of our way of life. As to whether it stays that way, only time will tell.

Remember to consult your physician before making significant changes to your diet, supplement or exercise regimen.

Sources:

  1. Daley, Beth, "Harvard study back bottle concern, says plastic used leaches bisphenol A," The Boston Globe, May 22, 2009
  2. Horton, Jennifer, "What's BPA and do I really need a new water bottle?" HowStuffWorks.com
  3. Daley, Beth, "Harvard study back bottle concern, says plastic used leaches bisphenol A," The Boston Globe, May 22, 2009

The Author:

Dr. Blankstein has been practicing for over 30 years as a leading Cardiologist. Trained in traditional medicine and Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, he knows the importance of good medical care. This consideration has allowed him to discover safe and natural ways of healing. His dedication to bringing the latest and best in health solutions to his patients and the public has given him the experience to research and develop proven natural remedies for many illnesses.

© 2010 Chesapeake Nutraceuticals

Photo Credit: Mister GC / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com

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