BPA Alternative Has Health Risks Too

BPA Alternatives

The plastic industry responded to the health risks of Bisphenol A (or BPA) with a new product, which now appears to have risks all its own.

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In the early 1950s, manufacturers started using a compound called bisphenol A—more commonly known to us as BPA—as a strengthening agent in commercial plastics. Fast forward forty years and researchers learned that synthetic chemicals such as BPA could disrupt the endocrine system and alter hormone function.

So retailers thankfully began to remove BPA from consumer products. But unfortunately, its replacement appears to have risks to human health as well.

Bisphenol S (BPS) is BPA substitute found in polycarbonate hard plastics, currency bills, and thermal paper receipts. It has recently been found to have similar endocrine-disrupting qualities and may worsen breast cancer outcomes.

Presenting last month at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society's 99th annual meeting held in Orlando, Sumi Dinda PhD, an associate professor at Oakland University School of Health Sciences, says that BPS acts like estrogen in multiplying breast cancer cells and suggests that the chemical may actually cause the cancer cells to become more aggressive.

The study was conducted on cell lines obtained from women with estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer, the most common type. But the findings may also be important to women with the BRCA1 mutation that significantly increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

So how can you lessen the risks associated with exposure to these chemicals? Here are common carriers and tips to avoid them:

Plastic bottles. Until it's clear the industry is using a safe replacement to BPA, switch to glass or stainless steel containers.

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• Baby food containers. Some glass jars of baby food feature lids with epoxy resin liners, known to contain BPA. Some liquid formula is sold in metal containers with epoxy liners. Buy baby food in containers made of number 1 or 2 plastic. Formula sold in powder form is considered less likely to be infiltrated by BPA, even if it’s sold in a resin-lined can.

• Plastic food containers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, containers with the Resin Identification Codes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are unlikely to contain BPA. Some marked with number 3 and 7 may contain BPA. Alternatively, you could also use stainless steel, glass or ceramic containers.

• Canned food and drinks. BPA is known to be in the epoxy resin liners of canned foods and aluminum beverage containers. Use fresh produce over packaged foods. While only small amounts of BPA were found in soda liners, higher amounts were found in beer. Switch to glass containers for beverages when available. If you must use canned foods, companies that use alternative products to both BPA and BPS are Eden Foods, Amy’s and Muir Glen.

• Heated containers. Heat can cause additional leaching of BPA when present. As a general rule, don't heat food in plastic containers in the microwave. Use glass or ceramic containers containers. Don't put hot food in plastic containers. The National Toxicology Program also advises against washing polycarbonate plastics (number 7) in the dishwasher using harsh detergents.

•Cash Register Receipts. Many of these are coated with BPA. You won’t absorb it through your skin, but if your hands touch your food or mouth, you’ll transfer the BPA. Just say no to receipts, or accept them by email, it’s the greener option anyway.

Resources:
Endocrine Society. "Exposure to BPA Substitute, BPS, Multiplies Breast Cancer Cells." ScienceDaily, 3 April 2017.

YaleScientific, August 17, 2016

Green Right Now

Photo Credit:
By KVDP - Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

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