Dr. John Day
Dr. Day is a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm abnormalities at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
7 Warning Signs You May Have BPA Toxicity
While the FDA continues to assert that BPA is safe, millions of Americans continue to suffer from more and more chronic medical conditions. Fully 93% of all Americans have BPA in their body according to one study. France has now banned BPA. Could BPA be one reason why so many of us are developing chronic medical conditions?
What is BPA?
BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a chemical often used to make plastic, food and beverage cans, the thermal paper used with cash register receipts, and sometimes the liner in water pipes. BPA has been used since 1957 which, interestingly, seems to coincide with the timeframe of the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
BPA leaches into our food and water from BPA lined cans and plastic bottles. When plastic is heated or cleaned, like in a microwave or a dishwasher, even more BPA leaches into our food. BPA is also absorbed from our skin whenever we handle the thermal paper from cash register receipts.
While the FDA did ban BPA in baby bottles in 2012, they did nothing to protect babies from BPA in cans and jars of baby formula or other drinks and foods.
Seven Warning Signs You May Have BPA Toxicity
Aside from having your urine tested for BPA levels, how can you know if you may be suffering from BPA toxicity? If you have any of the following seven medical conditions you may be exposed to excessive levels of BPA.
1. You Are Overweight
Historically, the concept of obesity was one of “calories in, calories out.” Now, based on a myriad of new data, whether or not someone is overweight is more of a function of hormonal and metabolic changes rather than just “calories in, calories out.”
Based on this new paradigm of obesity, powerful hormonal disrupters, like BPA, have been implicated as a possible cause in the obesity epidemic. Many studies, like this one, have shown that BPA is associated with weight gain.
To date, the data are not yet conclusive that BPA causes weight gain. However, given the increasing data of a link between weight gain and BPA, as well as for the others reasons that follow, we try to avoid BPA in our home.
2. Early Puberty
BPA disrupts our hormones. It has an estrogen-like effect that can alter many hormonal pathways. For example, it has been well described in the medical literature that BPA exposure can cause early puberty in both animals and humans. Could BPA be one of the reasons why most girls in the U.S. are now entering puberty now before age 10? 15% of girls enter puberty at age seven in the U.S. About 100 years ago, the average age of puberty for girls was 14 years.
3. Erectile Dysfunction
How does this estrogen-like effect impact men? In this study, researchers identified 230 factory workers in China who were exposed to high levels of BPA at work and then compared them to a similar number of men of the same age and other characteristics in the same city who were not exposed to BPA at work. Interestingly, men exposed to BPA at work were four times more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
4. Your Blood Pressure is Too High
In a study published last week in the prestigious medical journal, Hypertension, researchers concluded that even small amounts of BPA from a canned beverage can shoot our blood pressure up for a few hours. In this well designed study, researchers enrolled 60 people and had them drink the same beverage from either a glass container or the standard BPA lined container and then measured their blood pressure and BPA levels in their urine two hours later.
Not surprisingly, the BPA levels in the urine two hours after the drink were more than 16 times higher from the usual BPA-lined container versus the glass container. Interestingly, the systolic blood pressure was 5 mmHg higher following the drink in the standard BPA-lined container. Even just 1 mmHg rise in blood pressure is enough to increase your risk of a heart attack over time.
While your doctor has probably told you to cut back on your salt if you have high blood pressure, one of the causes might be BPA. For my own health, I would much rather reduce my exposure to BPA than eat bland food or take a drug for high blood pressure.
5. You Have ADHD
Unfortunately, the hormonal effects of BPA seem to go well beyond our reproductive health. Researchers are increasingly identifying that BPA may affect the brain to cause anxiety and hyperactivity disorders in both animals and humans. In this study of 292 children, researchers found that BPA levels in moms during pregnancy and then later in the child at age five seemed to predict whether or not they developed ADHD.
6. You Have Heart Disease
Many studies have now linked BPA to heart disease. Studies show that BPA may be a cause of plaque build up in the arteries of the heart, arrhythmias, and even heart attacks. One large study showed that people with the highest BPA exposure had a three-fold increased risk of heart disease.
7. You Have Breast or Prostate Cancer
It seems possible, then, that if you are exposed to high amounts of the estrogen disruptor BPA in your food and water, that cancer cells could arise in the breast or prostate. Indeed, many studies have now linked BPA to breast cancer and prostate cancer.
BPA in China’s Longevity Village
As most of you are aware, my wife and I have been studying the factors involved in the longevity and health of China’s centenarians residing in the remote Bapan Village of Southwest China. In this village where people are often still working in the fields until their 80s, 90s, or even 100s free from medications and the chronic medical conditions we see in the West, historically there was no exposure to BPA.
In this village, the people eat the produce on the day it is picked. Produce is not stored in any plastic containers. For millennia they have drunk from the clean mountain springs around their village, once again, free from plastic water containers. Any fish they catch from the river running through the village is eaten on the day it is caught and never comes into contact with plastic.
Certainly there is a lesson we can learn from these people. The less our food and water comes in contact with plastics and other chemicals the better. There is a lot we can do to ensure that what we eat and drink does not touch plastic or other potentially toxic chemicals.
What Can We Do to Protect Our Families from BPA?
Fortunately, for the most part we have a lot of control how much BPA we are exposed to. With careful attention, we can be part of the 7% of Americans who do not have any detectable levels of BPA in our urine. Here are my four strategies to rid our bodies of BPA and other potentially toxic chemicals.
1. Only drink from high grade glass or stainless steel containers.
Even if your plastic water bottle states that it is BPA free, I wonder about what other chemicals they use in the plastic to replace the BPA. Will these chemicals be found to cause problems for our health in the future?
2. Only Use BPA Free Cans
If you like your soda pop then you are probably going to also get a big dose of BPA unless you can find it in an old-fashioned glass container. Some canned foods, like beans, can be very healthy. When selecting canned foods make sure you only use BPA free cans.
3. Do Not Touch Receipts
Unfortunately, a large percentage of receipts are printed on BPA lined paper. Also, you can absorb a significant amount of BPA through the skin.
What should you do? This may sound a little extreme, but you could say no, thank you to the receipt, or wash your hands if you handled the receipt. If you need the receipt for business purposes, you could bring an envelope for it. If you work as a cashier, you could work with your employer to switch to BPA free receipt paper.
4. Avoid Letting Your Food Touch Any Plastic Product
There is so much we can do to avoid letting our food touch plastic. For example, we use glass containers in our house. We don’t overfill the glass containers so that the plastic lid does not touch the food.
The same goes for plastic utensils. We should be very wary of heating TV dinners in the microwave as they often come in plastic containers.
Also, at the grocery store, we avoid most packaged or prepared foods in favor of fresh produce. When we select our fresh produce at the grocery store we generally do not use the free plastic bags they provide. We just put the produce directly into paper bags and then wash the produce thoroughly before using.
What can you do in your home to minimize your exposure to BPA and other potentially toxic chemicals?
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.