Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bisphenol A: New Research & GMO Connection

 What you will find below: 
  1. New BPA research
  2. What BPA is
  3. What it does
  4. How to get it out of our lives
  5. GMO's being used to line cans in replacement of BPA?
Well, it appears we are getting rid of the baby bottles containing Bisphenol A, but what about all the other items we use in our daily lives? 

New research suggests an association between exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy and increased anxious, depressive, and hyperactive behaviors at age 3 years, particularly in girls.

The research was published online in Pediatrics. 2011;128:873-882. (This had been studied previously and found to be true in 2 year old girls.) The researcher (Dr. Braun) who completed this study said, "Going forward, we will continue to examine other behaviors including autistic-like behaviors and spatial abilities" in relation to BPA exposures. "We will also try to determine if BPA impacts fetal sex steroid production or action during gestation."

According to Trasande, no level of bisphenol A exposure is known to be truly safe. A government panel recently expressed 'some concern' that the ingredient causes neural and behavioral problems in children.

There is already prior human research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 linking BPA to cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Additionally there is concern from animal studies that BPA may effect the prostate gland, the brain, fetal development, development of mammary glands, accelerate puberty in females,  and effect reproductive health in people who work with BPA.

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It was originally made in 1891 and was investigated as a replacement for estrogen as it mimics estrogen in the body. It is plasticizer used in a variety of products. Virtually all people in industrialized nations are exposed to BPA. Research has shown that BPA can leach into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA. (The American Chemistry Council, an association that represents plastics manufacturers, contends that BPA poses no risk to human health.)

It is used in epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics (this plastic is usually identified with the recycling number 7). This is commonly used in food and drink packaging. (Examples are plastic food storage containers, aluminum food cans, baby bottles and water bottles.) You will see it inside water pipes, in dental composites/sealants, baby bottles, food storage containers, water coolers, medical devices, CDs, DVDs, bulletproof glass, construction glazing, and sports equipment and thermal receipts, such as those from ATM machines and cash register receipts. Heating up plastic with BPA will increase the likelihood of BPA migrating out and into your food. So if you warm up a baby bottle of milk in the microwave or put hot food into a plastic food container you are more likely to leach BPA into the contents of the plastic container. The effect appears to increase with repeated heating exposure.

You have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the problems with BPA. However, many people have not done much about it. Most of us seem to feel overwhelmed with how much of it is in our environment or in some cases inside of ourselves. So, let us look at where it exists and what we can do to make our personal environment a little safer. There are easy changes we can make in our lives that will be beneficial. In doing so, we will make the environment safer for each other also.

Avoiding BPA

Plastic food containers: Many people using these to save leftovers or freeze their food. Look for the number 7 on the container. If it has a 7, it has bisphenol A in it. We need to replace these and I will tell you how, but if you have a lot of them and decide to replace  them slowly, I can give you the following advise for using them. 

• Don't put hot food into them. The heat will release more BPA into your food. 

• Don't microwave plastic containers or otherwise heat them up with food in them as they break down over time and may leach BPA into your food. Use glass containers rather than plastic containers in the microwave. (Microwaves are not the best thing to heat food with, but we will save that for another blog.) Plastic baby bottles are usually made with BPA, so only use the glass ones. There are also BPA free plastic bottles. Soon, we will have only BPA free baby bottles sold. I would choose glass myself. If you are using the BPA plastic bottles, do not heat them in the microwave.

• Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers. 

• Discard/recycle all your plastic containers when they get old as chemicals leach into food more easily when the plastics break down. Replace them with the glass ones I mention below or other similar glass containers.
• Don't wash the plastic in the dishwasher. Washing them in the dishwasher (lots of heat) will cause the plastic to degrade and break down much faster.

• If you are out somewhere and choose to purchase water in a plastic bottle, be sure to keep it cool. Don't allow it to get warm. If it tastes like plastic, get rid of it. It probably has been heated somewhere along the way. I take my well water from home with me when I am out and about. I use a stainless steel container to carry the water. 

So what can you use to keep leftovers in and you can heat it in the oven? Glass storage containers are best and here are the ones I use.
Kleen Kanteens are what I use for safe transport of water:

Canned food: When food is canned, it is heated to high temperatures to kill bacteria. This is when the BPA can migrate from the lining into the food. Aluminum and tin cans have linings that contain BPA often. This was done to protect people from metals seeping into their food and causing bad tastes or poor health effects. The unintended consequence was BPA seeping into food unfortunately. Glass and steel containers do not have this problem. Look for food canned in glass. Some companies specifically can in glass (Just like I do and like many of your mothers use to do.) Look for these companies in the store.
Eden Foods has some items in glass jars. Sweet Creek Foods cans all their organic foods in glass jars.

I found some companies are using a can liner that contains a PBA free liner that is listed as an "enamel made from vegetable resins." These companies include but are not limited to Eden Foods, Native Forest, Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics, Wild Planet Foods and Oregon's Choice Gourmet. Most of these foods can be found in your organic grocery store or on-line. Although this sounds good at first glance, I had to ask myself what is this plant based enamel made from and is this not the same thing I paint with? I started looking patents up and here is what I found: It appears a professor Mike Jaffe was awarded a patent in 2009 for  a corn byproduct that can be used to replace bisphenol A (BPA) in epoxy resins  Jaffe said the new product would help create a less toxic epoxy resin, to be used as adhesives, paints and coatings to protect food in cans. Jaffe has been developing sugar-based materials in conjunction with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) in an effort to promote and create new, commercially attractive, sustainable chemistries from wider uses of corn.  EEEEEKKKK!!! I suddenly realized these well meaning manufacturers who took the BPA out of their cans are probably using a vegetable based resin made from GMO corn!  I do not want to support GMO corn in any way shape or form and do not want it leaching into my food! I will not buy their canned food unless they put it in glass!!!! I am going to investigate this more and will report soon.
I would like to add: Fresh food is always best. If not fresh, use frozen or dried. If you must use canned food, please look for foods in glass. Go to  your local health food store and identify how much canned food you can purchase in glass and what is missing. Tell your store what you would  like them to carry. Give your friends the list and tell them to go in and tell the store the same thing.

Dental composites and sealants: We now have a dilemma. Do we use mercury amalgams and have toxic mercury in our mouth or composites that have BPA or use gold which is now very expensive and you can't have it in your mouth with other metals as mixed metals in an acid or alkaline solution will create a battery effect. I myself after having severe mercury toxicity went for the composites before we knew the problems with BPA. So far, I am much better off for it. I would like to see research on the composites that looks at their reaction in our warm but not hot mouth as well as how the constant chewing may or may not effect release of BPA. If I can find this information, I will share it with you.

Cash receipts and ATM receipts: Try not to handle them much. Anything they rub on can pick up the BPA. Samples of our money supply have been tested and found to always contain traces of BPA which is thought to be due to these receipts being put into our purses and wallets with the money. So the money also has BPA on it. Remember it can be absorbed through the skin. So handle these items as little as possible. Washing your hands afterwards will help but don't get obsessive about it.

Medical devices: The FDA initiated two studies in 2009 to determine whether plastic components might be leaching BPA into patients during cardiopulmonary bypass and hemodialysis. This is being undertaken at the Children's National Medical Center and does not appear to be finished yet.

We can protect ourselves and others.
We can make a big dent in the amount of BPA in our environment by refusing to purchase items with BPA in them. The manufacturers will simply use something else. Something like cash receipts and ATM receipts will need some type of state or federal law that does not allow BPA receipts to be used. This is a matter of contacting our representatives.

In my opinion you can effect your health the most by making sure you do not purchase food in cans or boxes (broth, soy milk etc) that has a plastic lining inside. If there are no replacements call the company and complain. Tell them you are going to make your own broth or almond/soy/oat milk and then do it. Making these milks is easy and much tastier than what you can purchase. Finding companies who can with glass is getting easier. Look at the organic foods as this is where you often find manufacturers who care enough to can in glass. It is harder for them and the distributor to move glass objects around. Cans are more forgiving when they break. However, I think we would all agree that a little breakage and even a slightly higher cost if necessary is better than BPA lined cans or GMO lined cans taking up residence in our bodies.