Research published Monday in the journal BMJ Open disclosed some frightening statistics about the incidence of Bisphenol A( BPA) among teens: 86 percent of 94 teens tracking their diet and submitting urine samples in a study indicated evidence of BPA in their urine.
The culprit: plastic containers and bottles that seep potentially cancer-causing chemical through food and beverages. The teenage participants attempted to reduce their exposure to BPA by” avoiding fruits and vegetables packaged in plastic containers, tinned food, and meals designed to be reheated in a microwave in packaging containing BPA ,” according to a press statement. Welp–anyone who’s had a long day and wants to just nuke some food in a microwave could be getting a dose of BPA to boot.
And while the teens were able to reduce their exposure to BPA, one author of the paper noted that it’s next to impossible to avoid BPA:” Our students who followed the BP-Afree diet reported that it would be difficult to follow it long term, because labelling of BPA products was inconsistent. They detected it is challenging to source and identify BP-Afree foods .”
That’s the crux of a problem highlighted BPA literature for the better part of a decade: Warns about the health effects of cancer-causing chemicals that trickle into food and beverages from common plastic household products that then enter our systems–from newborns sucking out of sippy beakers to adults storing leftovers to heat up the next day. But it’s a problem neither public health nor the government has figured out yet.
It’s not the first time that urine samples have shown that a huge majority of people have BPA floating in their bodies. A 2003 -0 4 survey conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences( NIEHS) on behalf of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 93 percent of 2,517 urine samples of people over the age of 6 had BPA in their system, principally from food and liquor containers; for babies, breast milk was a primary source.
But wasn’t BPA labeled a bad guy nearly a decade ago, when bespoke water bottles flashed the fact that they weren’t made of BPA and built slinging one around in public practically cool? Yes, but the history of BPA in our plastics runs deep–and continues to plague Western plastics consumption.
Public health proponents began warning of BPA’s dire impacts several years ago, as bombshell study after study reported the chemical, which is used to harden polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, could seep into humen as they broke down. Use since the 1960 s, the chemical is found in everything from plastic food storage containers to helmets to dental sealants to water bottles–products with high usage across all demographics, including children. BPA can seamlessly enter our bodies because it’s shawl in a chemical disguise that constructs it similar to estrogen. That means genes that respond to estrogen respond to BPA instead, interrupting the endocrine system and wreaking havoc in the regulation of hormones.
Getting even a minute trace of BPA into the bloodstream isn’t pretty: Once in the bloodstream, it can lead to a host of serious health issues, including affecting the prostate gland of fetuses, increased risk of high blood pressure, and hyperactivity. BPA has been connected to other, more serious cancers as well, ranging from prostate cancer and heart disease to fundamental disruptions in the endocrine system and genetic expres, according to a database of BPA studies the NIEHS maintains.
Because of their dangerous side effects, children and pregnant women have been especially warned against utilizing products that contain BPA. But health bureaux have been slow provide answers to BPA outside alerting Americans to be careful of exposing themselves to products. In fact, a 2008 report from the National Toxicology Program observed” minimal concern” for” females, babies, and children” exposed to BPA in mammary glands( i.e ., breast milk ), and” negligible concern” for pregnant women and those who might be exposed to BPA in their workplace. Meanwhile, there was ” some concern” about how BPA affected” brain, behavior, and prostate gland development in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures .”
That leads to the latest study on BPA, which suggests that the effects are demonstrating up in a majority of teens( who likely went through the first wave of BPA health warnings) and can lay latent until symptoms of more serious cancers show up later in life. On median, the participants in the study–students in six southwest England aged between 17 and 19 years old–had 1.22 ng/ mL of BPA in their urine. The students were part of a public health initiative designed to see if tracking diet would help them identify sources of BPA, particularly around plastic food storage receptacles. The researchers not only found that 86 percentage of the students proved signs of BPA in their urine, but–troublingly–that it was nearly impossible to avoid BPA in daily life due to poor labeling:” We received no evidence in this self-administered intervention study that it was possible to moderate BPA exposure by diet in a real-world defining .”
What &# x27; s even more worrisome is the sheer prevalence of products that contain BPA in everyday life, despite regulations not only in the United States but across the world. As the study–from researchers at England &# x27; s University of Exeter–points out, the European Food Safety Authority has investigated the health effects of BPA. Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration has not outright banned the use of BPA but warned in the 2008 National Toxicology Report that it had” specific concerns for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, babies, and children at current human exposures ,” together with a 108-page report that outlined the negative health effects of BPA.
What’s more, alternatives aren’t exactly a safe bet. The public outcry over BPA had the plastics industry scrambling to create alternate products that were BP-Afree yet helped harden plastics the way BPA did, but some early research indicated that these BP-Areplacements had the ability to induce estrogenic activity, including baby bottles and sippy cups, that “stressed” they were BP-Afree and used resins like polysterene and Tritan( tm) instead.
So what stimulates sense from a consumer front–avoiding products that explicitly say they are free of BPA–isn’t necessarily a safe strategy, and it’s one that the researchers themselves ran into while working with the 94 teens, who reported that they had a hard time outright avoiding products that contained BPA.
” We procured no proof in this self-administered intervention study that it is feasible to moderate BPA exposure by diet in a real-world defining ,” the authors noted.” Furthermore, our study participants indicated that they would be unlikely to sustain such a diet long term, due to the difficulty in identifying BP-Afree foods .”
The study has its limits: It focuses on fewer than 100 British teenagers in a specific region in England, and the students self-reported their own dietary restrictions.
But the study highlightings two things. First, it’s nearly impossible to avoid BPA in our food packaging. Second, “safe” substitutes aren’t inevitably safe. Better labeling is able to, but what will ultimately make for less dismal statistics are outright outlaws of BPA and better-tested substitutes of plastic hardeners–or better yet, avoiding them altogether with equally effective, affordable, accessible options–that don’t attain BPA the unavoidable health threat it has become.
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