A healthy immune system is vitally important in fighting off conditions like Candida Related Complex. Things that encourage a healthy immune system include taking probiotics, eating a diet low in inflammatory foods, and maintaining the right body and intestinal pH. If we make the wrong choices in our lifestyle, diet, or elsewhere, it becomes increasingly difficult for our immune systems to provide the protection we need.
There’s no doubt that technological advances have made the world a safer and more convenient place to live. However, every now and then one of these technological advances backfires. In the case of the synthetic compound known as BPA, there is evidence to suggest that it may cause serious disruption to our immune systems. And a recent study on primates has found that even low levels of BPA exposure led to worrying abnormalities in fetal development.
What Is BPA?
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a synthetic, chemical compound that is used mainly in the manufacture of plastics. It has been around since the late 1950s and is commonly used in the manufacture of sports equipment, CDs and DVDs. Plastics that contain BPA are strong and clear, so the substance is often used to make water bottles and food containers. It’s also used in the epoxy resins that line water pipes or the insides of cans. You might be surprised to learn that most of the cans in your local supermarket use a BPA lining. It is also found in dental fillings, and the thermal paper used for printing receipts usually contains BPA too.
Is BPA Dangerous?
Since the late 1990s, there has been growing concern about the safety of exposure to BPA. Several studies found that small amounts of BPA may leach into food and then end up in your body. In fact, estimates are that about 90% of all people have BPA in their bodies. Children in particular seem to have disconcertingly high levels of BPA in their systems, possibly because they don’t yet have the well-developed liver function of an adult, whose body can get rid of most of the BPA it absorbs.
One of the main reasons to be concerned about the effects of prolonged exposure is that BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It mimics estradiol, a type of estrogen that is used for reproduction, the development of the fetus during pregnancy, and for healthy bones and organs. In simple terms, the concern is that BPA can mess with your hormones.
Hundreds of studies have been done to try and determine the effects of BPA especially on fetal development. They’ve shown mixed results. In fact, the American Food and Drug Administration said earlier this year that their research has shown little cause for concern, because the rodents they studied only showed abnormalities after being exposed to much higher levels of BPA than people normally experience. 
The key word here is ‘rodents’. Most studies so far have been done on lab rats and mice. While these animals are certainly useful in medical testing, they don’t always react to substances in the same way as humans or even other animals. Take for instance the thalidomide scandal of the 1950s and 1960s. The new drug was tested extensively on rodents, checking for its effect on rodent fetuses, and was then deemed safe for use by humans. Later on, when it emerged that thalidomide caused severe birth defects in people, the drug was tested on rabbits and primates too and these animals showed fetal abnormalities. If proper testing had been conducted, the tragedy of thalidomide would never have happened.
This brings us on to a recent BPA study at the University of Missouri, which used primates (instead of rats and mice) as test subjects.  It was the first study to do so, and the results are quite worrying. Even after very low levels of exposure to BPA, the fetuses of rhesus monkeys showed abnormalities in organs such as the uterus, the ovaries, the mammary glands, the heart, the lungs, and the brain. This suggests that the pregnant mother can pass BPA on to the developing fetus, with adverse effects.
While we simply don’t know yet just how BPA can affect humans, many of us believe that there may be a link between this chemical compound and a host of other conditions such as heart problems, cancer, brain tumors, and behavioral problems.
I mentioned that BPA can affect the immune system, and there is some solid evidence to suggest this is the case. A 2011 epidemiological study  concluded that “BPA and triclosan may negatively affect human immune function”, and a more recent study found a link between low levels of BPA and childhood asthma.
Another, less reported concern about BPA is its effect on the environment. Several studies have concluded that where BPA enters water bodies such as rivers and lakes, it has a detrimental effect on the ability of fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, insects, crustaceans and other aquatic organisms to reproduce.
What Is The Official Stance On BPA?
At this stage, the World Health Organization and several governments, including those of the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands and Switzerland, believe that the risks of BPA exposure are too small to be cause for concern.  However, in Turkey the use of BPA in products for babies, such as baby bottles, has been banned while several other governments, including those of France, Denmark and Belgium, are considering banning the substance. Canada has already declared BPA a ‘toxic substance.’
Interestingly, in Japan, the canning industry itself stopped using BPA in the epoxy linings of most of its products. BPA-free plastics were introduced for school lunches too. One study has shown that these voluntary actions have resulted in a 50% decline in the levels of BPA in Japanese people’s blood levels.
How Do You Avoid Exposure To BPA?
If you’re worried about how BPA may affect your health, it’s best to avoid being exposed to it. There are very simple things you can do, including the following:
- Avoid plastic bottles, tableware and food containers, especially those marked with the recycling code ‘7’ or those that are made of thick, clear plastic. You can get BPA-free plastics but these may use substances like BPS, or bisphenol S, which can be just as harmful. Instead, opt for glass, stainless steel or ceramic containers.
- Reduce your intake of food and drinks that come in cans, since most cans use BPA in their lining. Besides, fresh food is much healthier anyway.
- If you want to microwave food, take it out of its plastic container and place it in a glass or ceramic container before nuking it. The heat may break down plastics, increasing the risk of BPA leaching into your food.
- If you have to take a printed receipt, store it in a different compartment of your wallet so that it doesn’t come into contact with your paper money. Then wash your hands as soon as possible after handling it. Just remember that hand sanitizers may increase your exposure to BPA, so opt for good old soap and water instead.
- Ask your dentist about fillings that don’t contain bisphenol A diglycidyl ether, or BADGE. Better yet, take care of your teeth so that you won’t need fillings in the first place.
1. Jen Landa, MD. “The Dangers of BPA”. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jen-landa-md/healthy-living-news_b_4919960.html.
2. vom Saal et al. (2014). “Bisphenol A (BPA) pharmacokinetics with daily oral bolus or continuous exposure via silastic capsules in pregnant rhesus monkeys: relevance for human exposures”. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623814000203.
3. Clayton et al. (2011). “The impact of bisphenol A and triclosan on immune parameters in the U.S. population, NHANES 2003-2006”. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21062687.
4. WHO (2011). “Project to review toxicological and health aspects of Bisphenol A”. http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/chemical-risks/bisphenol/en/
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