Bisphenol A (BPA) is a very common chemical used in our disposable society. It is found in many everyday products, including food cans, plastic water containers, and baby bottles. How likely is it that you have been exposed to BPA? The real question is: how high are your exposure levels? BPA is raising concerns in the medical community, because studies have linked low-dose BPA exposure to an increase in prostate weight, increased risk for heart disease, breast cells predisposed to cancer, prostate cells more sensitive to hormones and cancer, and hyperactivity. BPA is classified by the Government of Canada as a hormone disruptor.
Given its reputation as a hormone disrupter, perhaps it’s no surprise that U.K scientists have just discovered that BPA can also affect men’s testosterone levels.
In the new study, an international team of researchers analyzed data from 715 adults, aged 20 to 74. They found that the study participants’ average BPA exposure was more than five micrograms per day, which is slightly higher than recent estimates for the U.S. population.
It seems that higher BPA exposure was associated with hormone changes in men; in particular, increases in levels of testosterone in the blood. It has been speculated that increased testosterone could boost your risk for heart disease or cancer. However, the health effects of elevated testosterone are not fully understood or proven yet.
The researchers noted that this is the first big study of BPA from a European country. They feel that the study confirms that “routine” exposures in the population are not benign — they do pose a health risk.
So, what can you do? How do you reduce your exposure to BPA? Try the following suggestions for starters:
—Use plastics with recycle code 1, 2 or 5 only. Plastics with recycle code 3 contain PVC, which has its own toxicity and is unsafe for human use. Code 7 means “other” — meaning that the ingredients of a 7 plastic are undefined. However, this is where you will find BPA if it is present. Polycarbonate is another name to stay away from. “Polycarbonate” means BPA is present.
—If you do have polycarbonate plastic food containers, don’t put them in the microwave. Polycarbonate breaks down over time when used at high temperatures.
—Reduce your use of canned foods — only a few brands use BPA-free liners inside the can.
—When possible, opt for glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids. Buy a stainless steel water bottle for drinks on-the-go.
—Remember to use baby bottles/drink bottles that are BPA-free when preparing drinks for kids. Children are sensitive to even low levels of chemicals.