You’ve heard it now a million times over – don’t heat things in plastic containers! Avoid BPA! But have you ever really understood why?
The Breast Cancer Fund released a report for this month, September 2013, entitled Disrupted Development: the Dangers of Prenatal BPA Exposure – it is a comprehensive look at what BPA is, where it’s found, and why it is more harmful to be exposed to BPA before birth than at any other stage of life.
BPA, short for bisphenol-A, is a chemical that was first synthesized in 1891. A doctor Edward Charles Dodds did some research on BPA in the early 1900s due to its potential as an estrogenic pharmaceutical. He later developed DES (diethylstilbestrol), a more potent estrogen that was used for many years therapeutically and had some pretty devastating effects, and BPA found a new role as a building block for plastics and epoxy resins. It is now one of the most ubiquitous chemicals in modern life.
Most tin cans are, unfortunately, lined in plastic in order to keep the metallic taste out of the foods; BPA is a fat-soluble substance and thus leaches from the plastic into the food contained within. So the majority of tinned foods contain BPA, as well as water from plastic bottles and foods packaged in plastic. When we heat plastic, we liberate even more of the BPA into our foods.
The report explains that while we tell parents to limit the amount of canned food children consume, the research is showing we need to pay much more attention to exposures during the prenatal period, while your babe is in the womb. During the prenatal period, babies’ entire systems are being formed, and they are extremely vulnerable to changes in their environment. And while the mother’s body detoxifies some BPA before it reaches the fetus, strong evidence shows that active BPA does cross the placental barrier. As I mentioned above, BPA was first researched for its estrogenic properties – it’s no surprise that it still acts this way in the body when we ingest it from plastics. The harmful effects of prenatal exposure to BPA include endocrine disruption (hormonal imbalance) that can set the stage for chronic disease later in life, malformation of the reproductive organs and mammary glands (breasts), and negative behavioural changes in children.
Our bodies are able to detoxify BPA, under the right circumstances, but as a nation we typically ingest it on a daily basis. Over time, the toxicity burden rises and our bodies have a hard time keeping up. The best solutions are to avoid all foods stored in plastic, to never heat food in plastic containers, never let bottled water sit out in the sun, and see your friendly naturopathic doctor for advice on supporting the detoxification ability of your body – especially when you’re trying to conceive, are pregnant or nursing a new babe!
To glass, not plastic! In health,
Reference: Breast Cancer Fund, 2013. Disrupted development: the dangers of prenatal BPA exposure. Accessed at: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/assets/pdfs/publications/disrupted-development-the-dangers-of-prenatal-bpa-exposure.pdf