Bisphenol A, commonly called BPA, is a chemical that has been used for nearly six decades in the production of many plastics and resins. In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of discussion about the safety of BPA. Perhaps you have heard of BPA, and perhaps you have seen the plethora of BPA-free labeling on water bottles and food storage containers. But what is it, and why has BPA (and its safety) come under scrutiny lately?
In addition to being used in the production of plastics and resins, BPA is used to coat the inside of many metal containers used for food and beverage storage. While the FDA had cleared BPA as being "safe" for food products based on extensive research done in the 1960s, it has now shifted its position slightly to having "some concern" about the effects of this chemical. It has also been determined that BPA can leak into the food or beverages that are held in these types of containers. Moreover, while manufacturers are claiming to remove BPA from their products, they are now sometimes replacing BPA with bisphenol S and F, which do not appear to be any safer than bisphenol A. So while the label may say "BPA free," it may just have been replaced with another formulation of this chemical.
Additionally, recent research indicates that BPA has a disruptive effect on the endocrine system, particularly during fetal development. The endocrine system plays an important part in the development of the human reproductive system. During early development of the male embryo, exposure to BPA appears to be linked to increasing numbers of disorders within the male reproductive system.
So what can you do to limit your exposure to BPA? Fortunately, there are a number of options. Choose stainless steel, porcelain, or glass containers for food and beverage storage instead of plastic containers. Reduce the amount of food and beverages you consume which are packaged in cans and, when possible, opt for fresh or frozen foods. Avoid heating foods in plastic containers (particularly in microwaves), or washing those containers at high heat, both of which may lead to BPA leeching into your foods.
There are ways to reduce the amount of BPA already circulating in your body, too. Substances found in folic acid, black tea, royal jelly (a honey bee secretion sometimes used as a medicine, health food, and cosmetic), and probiotics have been found to reduce the body's exposure of BPA, whether directly or indirectly.
In addition to everything you can do for YOUR body, do what you can to reduce the amount of BPA in products on the market. Continue to demand that manufacturers and lawmakers begin to recognize the damaging effects of this chemical and research safer, healthier options for their consumers.