BPA’s Latest Nasty Trick


You may need a drink to calm your nerves after this one. Just make sure that you aren’t sipping out of a plastic bottle. News about the ubiquity of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and its dangers is commonplace these days (here’s three recent posts we’ve done). It’s a known endocrine disruptor, banned from children’s bottles and drinking cups in the U.S., and often associated with a number health risks including but not limited to weight gain, heart disease, and negative effects on cognitive function and thyroid function.

Now comes a new study from Seoul National University that has discovered yet another negative effect of BPA exposure: high blood pressure.

Subjects drank soy milk, a neutral pH beverage with no associations to hypertension, out of cans and glass jars. On days when the subjects drank out of can (lined with BPA, as so many metal cans are!) their blood pressure spiked and the incidence of BPA in their urine increased to a crazy amount. From the abstract:

The urinary BPA concentration increased after consuming canned beverages by >1600% compared with that after consuming glass-bottled beverages. Systolic blood pressure adjusted for daily variance increased by ≈4.5 mm Hg after consuming 2 canned beverages compared with that after consuming 2 glass-bottled beverages, and the difference was statistically significant."

Typically experiments about toxic exposure are longitudinal: a large group of people is followed for a long time, habits recorded, tests run, and correlations made. The funny thing about toxic exposure is that no one is really willing to sign up for it. This experiment, however, relied on 60 willing participants, and while not ready for extrapolation, the findings are significant. Anahad O’Connor of the New York Times quotes a prominent BPA researcher:

I think this is a very interesting and important study that adds to the concern about bisphenol A,” said Dr. Michels, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It raises a lot of questions. We have such a high rate of hypertension in this country, which has risen, and we haven’t really thought of bisphenol A and its use in cans as one of the causes of that.”  

O’Connor also points out that BPA alternatives are not necessarily devoid of their own risks, citing a New York Times piece from three years ago that referenced a journal article which found that BPA alternatives also leached estrogenic compounds like BPA. A more recent journal article in Environmental Health corroborates those findings.  

The amount of synthetic chemicals in our environment are certainly cause for concern. Ginny Graves of Kiwi,recently wrote about the surge in childhood diseases related to environmental exposure to toxic chemicals. She also offers some good advice on how to limit your exposure:

Eat organic

Drink filtered water

Pass up food that comes from animals treated with antibiotics

Cut back on Canned food

Avoid using plastic food containers

Vacuum and dust with a damp rag or sponge every two or three days

Use natural pest killing products

No one can guarantee, yet, that these actions will prevent all exposure to BPA, but they are a good start to reducing it. Fixing the Toxic Substances Control Act, would be a much more effective way of helping our country avoid getting sick from these chemicals by ridding our food chain and environment of endocrine disruptors entirely.  

PHOTO: via flickr


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson


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