• Canned Foods with a Side of Bisphenol-A (BPA)

    Bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, is an environmental estrogen we are constantly exposed to; it is used in hardened plastics and the coating of most food and beverage cans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports detectable levels of BPA in the urine of 93% of Americans. Why should that concern anyone?

    Bisphenol-A poses serious health risks. According to the Environmental Working Group, "Trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain, and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy."  Yeah, that's why.

    BPA has been in wide use since the 1960s - most prominently in canned foods and canned drinks. Not coincidently, studies show a decline since the 1960s in male testosterone levels and an increase in their estrogen levels. Now, that is not solely due to Bisphenol-A, but it is one of many culprits. We have also seen, since the 1960s, earlier onset of puberty in females, and increase in Type II diabetes, obesity, and cancer. These are all inter-related problems, and the evidence points to the inevitable conclusion that while not a direct cause for these conditions, BPA can certainly play a role in facilitating these health issues; therefore, it is best avoided.

    For example, one place we are exposed to BPA, which most people consider harmless, is receipts. The Environmental Working Group tested the receipts from various U.S. retailers including WalMart, Target, Starbucks, the U.S. Post Office, and McDonalds in 7 states and in the District of Columbia. They're findings we're staggering. On 40% of receipts, the BPA content found on the receipts was 250-1,000 times higher than is found in canned foods!

    BPA reacts with dye to form the black ink on receipts when they are printed. A lab at the University of Missouri found that the BPA readily wipes off and therefore is transferred to our skin. It can penetrate the epidermis to the point that it cannot be washed off - providing an opportunity to absorb it directly into the blood from the skin.

    This is a serious concern for the average American who no doubt comes into contact with receipts, ATM slips, and credit and debit card receipts several times a day. However, it is an even greater concern to people who work in the retail and service industries. Based on analysis by the Environmental Working Group of biomonitoring data from the CDC, the average retail employee who comes into contact with receipts potentially hundreds of times a day, possessed 30% more BPA in their bodies than people who did not work in retail.

    Some retailers (such as Target and Starbucks) have recently chosen to use BPA-free receipts. However, it is difficult for us to avoid receipts all-together or know indefinitely what retailers use BPA-free receipts. Therefore, what is to be done?

    One way to avoid BPA is to simply use glass and ceramic in our homes and when heating food in microwaves. Another way is to buy and support companies who provide plastic products that are BPA-free. Also, when possible, choose fresh foods in lieu of canned ones. Coming into contact with BPA is virtually inevitable in our daily lives; therefore, avoiding it when possible is very important.

    While we can try to avoid BPA, we also must work hard to support our endocrine system and liver health. This is done by eating quality meat, fresh vegetables, and using effective supplements that support these systems such as, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and anti-oxidants.

    Also, companies who use BPA in their products, such as Coca-Cola and Del-Monte, throw a lot of money at Washington lobbyists who in turn lobby the FDA to maintain its stance that BPA is safe. Therefore, contact your Senator and Congressional Representative about voting for stricter regulations for BPA. The less we are exposed to it, the healthier we will be.


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