You’ve likely heard a lot about BPA in the past few years. It’s a chemical compound found in many types of plastics, including water bottles. Due to public outcry, most water bottle companies have modified their plastic formula to remove BPA (…but that doesn’t mean it’s now safe to drink from plastic.)
However, just because it’s gone from your water bottle, doesn’t mean that BPA out of your life, or out of your body. Did you know there’s a lot of evidence linking BPA to the obesity epidemic? And BPA still lurks in many places you would never think of.
What is BPA?
Here’s a quick primer on BPA. Like our world’s oceans, our bodies are becoming increasingly saturated with plastics. Many of the chemicals (including BPA) found in plastics are xenoestrogens, or synthetic estrogens. This means they mimic the effect of estrogen in our body. Sadly, our bodies can’t differentiate between real estrogen and synthetic estrogen.
Why is BPA Bad for You?
Synthetic estrogens are endocrine disrupters, messing up our bodies’ natural hormonal cycle. This goes for guys as well as gals—testosterone is a hormone too, which can be adversely effected by too much estrogen in the system. Humans have about 50 hormones in our endocrine system, and xenoestrogens mess with most of them. One of the health risks being linked to BPA, is that it causes an increase in obesity.
Besides obesity, there are a whole host of health-related issues linked to BPA and other xenoestrogens, including:
- Genital Deformity (in-utero)
- Heart Disease
- Infertility / Low Sperm Count
- Liver Disease
- Thyroid Dysfunction
- The list goes on…
How Does BPA Cause Obesity
As a synthetic estrogen, BPA can cause an increase in the number and size of fat cells in the human body. Having more and larger fats cells enables the body to store more fat in those cells. Fat cells in turn produce more estrogen, and so begin a vicious cycle, leading to many of the ailments listed above.
So Is Your Shopping Habit Making You Fat?
In this high-tech-everything-plastic-world that we live in, we are being bombarded on a daily basis by these synthetic estrogens. It’s like we are taking a bath in estrogen every day (literally, as many shampoos and body washes contain them too.) This infographic from Europe shows how the average woman is being exposed to over 500 synthetic chemicals daily.
BPA and other xenoestrogens are found in so many places that it’s virtually impossible to avoid them all together. But here are two easy ways to help eliminate BPA from your body:
- Dr. Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of The Hormone Cure, says just say no to cash register receipts. Most cash register receipts use thermal coated paper which contains BPA. That BPA is directly absorbed through your skin when you touch the receipt. One study showed that cashiers have 400-times the BPA in their bodies than other types of workers. Ask for no receipt (and save some trees!), or if you need that receipt, be sure to wash your hands right away after touching it.
- Avoid canned food. Most cans used in canned food are lined with BPA. This BPA leaches out into the canned food before you eat it. Even foods that are in “BPA-Free” cans, may not be any better for you. They are using different plastics, which haven’t yet been studied, and may still contain xenoestrogens.
Educate Yourself on Xenoestrogens
Here are a few resources to learn more about BPA and other xenoestrogens, and their health consequences to humans. Be an informed consumer, vote with your wallet, and please share this info with your friends and family:
- FitDay.com: BPA & Obesity: How this Plastic Causes Weight Gain
- Medscape.com: BPA and Obesity: Is This Connection Real?
- Stop Cancer Fund: Do chemicals in our environment cause weight gain?
- NRDC: Endocrine Disrupters
- Scientific American: Plastics in our Diet