by Sana Sandström
Does it seem like infertility, low sperm count, early puberty, certain male birth defects, breast and prostrate cancer are on the rise? Actually they are and the villain might be environmental contaminants like BPA, DEHP and similar endocrine disruptors. The evidence linking exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals with infertility, cancers and malformations is strong.
What is an endocrine disruptor? Bisphenol A, or BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the hormone system, causing problems, particularly when exposures occur during gestation or in early life.
How do these chemicals affect people? Endocrine disruptors act like hormones and interfere with our body's natural hormone functions. Trace amounts of chemicals like BPA have been associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, including increased risk of breast and prostate cancer (in animal models), infertility in men and women, early puberty in girls, metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes and obesity, and neurobehavioral problems such as ADHD. Endocrine disruptors like BPA act cumulatively, adding to your own baselines of hormones and to each other.
Dr. Shanna Swan, Director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry discovered in a study on prenatal and phthalates that preschool aged boys exposed to higher levels while in the womb played in a less masculine manner.4
How much is safe? Based on what we know, chemicals like BPA and phthalates are hormone disruptors. Potentially they can effects to your body's hormone systems. We don't know just what level is safe and while this is being determined, people can choose to lower their levels of exposure.
BPA, is one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. It is the chemical building block for clear, shatterproof polycarbonate plastic, which is used in baby bottles, water bottles and food storage containers. It is also in the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans, including infant formula cans.
A recent peer-reviewed study published in, conducted by Breast Cancer Fund2 and Silent Spring Institute3, tried reducing the levels of these chemicals in test families with a few simple changes in the kitchen. Study participants ate a diet that avoided contact with BPA-containing food packaging, such as canned food and polycarbonate plastic.1
Dr. RuthAnn Rudel, Director of Research at the Silent Spring Institute and co-author of the study told Pregnancy.org, "For the first time we have a really clear picture of how much it can be reduced. We have clear evidence that food packaging is the main source of DEHP, BPA and we found that just three days of fresh food diet with limited packaging reduced the level in less than half. Reductions were even more pronounced for the highest exposures. See charts of results on next page.
Based on what we know, chemicals like BPA and phthalates are hormone disruptors. Potentially they can cause effects. We don't know just what level is safe and while this is being determined, people may want to choose to lower their levels of exposure."
Here are six simple ways to play it safe and reduce your exposure while scientists continue to study the health effect of these chemicals:
Fresh is best. BPA and phthalates can migrate from the linings of cans and plastic packaging into food and drinks. While it's not practical to avoid food packaging altogether, opt for fresh or frozen instead of canned food as much as possible.