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Ah, Bisphenol A – or BPA as it is more commonly referred to as. BPA is a man-made synthetic chemical compound used to make plastics and epoxies, and until recently was used in everything from water and baby bottles, soda cans, and even cash register receipts. However, recent studies have been showing that BPA isn’t all that good for us, as it mimics the hormone estrogen in our bodies and has been linked to brain and behavioral changes, reproductive system harm, breast cancers, obesity, and heart disease. It’s nasty stuff. But while the U.S. government is still trying to figure out just how bad it is (we all know what glacial speed they work at), the Breast Cancer Fund recently completed a study that pointed at major concerns for moms-to-be.
The study states that “prenatal exposure to this toxic endocrine-disrupting chemical is of even greater concern than childhood exposure” and that exposure during the first eleven weeks of a pregnancy correlated to later behavioral and health problems as the children develop into adults. It showed that early exposure led to the possibility of reduced thyroid-stimulating hormones in male newborns, increased birth weight in males, decreased body mass indexes, increased odds of wheezing from 6 months to 3 years, increased aggression and emotional reactivity in boys, and decreased emotional control in girls at age 3, to name but just a few results from the study.
“The report summarizes more than 60 peer-reviewed animal and human studies on prenatal BPA exposure, many of which demonstrate increased risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, metabolic changes, decreased fertility, early puberty, neurological problems and immunological changes,” said Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., director of science at the Breast Cancer Fund and co-author of the report. “It also explores why the developing fetus is particularly sensitive to the effects of BPA—especially during the first 11 weeks of pregnancy, when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant.”
Although the FDA recently banned BPA in infant formula packaging, there isn’t a single state or federal regulation prohibiting this toxic chemical compound from being used in food packaging that the rest of us utilize. Some companies have been removing BPA from products as a result of consumer concern, and many countries in the European Union have banned its use in any and all baby products. These changes can’t come fast enough if you ask me. The Breast Cancer Fund is working to eliminate BPFA from all canned food products by 2015, as well as require the disclosure of any alternatives manufacturers use to replace BPA in their product packaging. If you want to help or get involved, check out and sign their petition sending a message to the Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, ConAgra Foods, and Del Monte Foods.
In order to avoid any unnecessary BPA exposure, the BCF offers the following advice:
- Avoid canned food when possible, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned.
- Look for soups and sauces in aseptic cardboard containers.
- Buy food in glass jars, which are BPA-free. These, of course, have the great advantage of being reusable!
- Skip the cash register receipt. Do you really need proof that you bought a pack of gum?
And of course, I will offer my own piece of advice: get yourself a quality reusable water bottle. Stop using those cheap plastic ones you buy at the drugstore, which could be filled with all sorts of toxic chemicals above and beyond just BPA. Both Sigg and Klean Kanteen are reputable companies selling safe, well-made water bottles. Do your body right and avoid the toxic stuff!