Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reduce Your Exposure to BPA and Phthalates

Replacing packaged foods with fresh foods can significantly reduce levels of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates in our bodies, according to a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the peer-reviewed journal from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

BPA has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, reproductive dysfunction and miscarriage, metabolic dysfunction and diabetes, neurological and behavioral disorders, and breast and prostate cancer.

Phthalates act as endocrine disruptors, affecting several hormonal systems in the body, and can increase the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has demonstrated that phthalates also induce changes in the gene expression of normal, healthy cells, affecting immune responses, cell cycle regulation and antioxidant status. Because phthalates can cross the placenta, exposure is especially dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

These environmental toxins are commonly found in the linings of metal food cans and in plastic food and beverage containers.

The recent study was a joint effort of the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute. Researchers delivered fresh foods to 20 participants in 5 families for 3 days, during which they agreed to avoid packaged foods and drinks, and meals outside the home. Researchers also collected evening urine samples before, during, and after the switch, and measured metabolites from BPA and a phthalate called bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate or DEHP.

After only 3 days of replacing packaged foods with fresh foods, levels of BPA and DEHP dropped significantly. DEHP metabolites were reduced by 53% to 56% on average and those from BPA were reduced by an average of 66%.

It's always a good thing to eat fresh food and reduce our exposure to environmental toxins like BPA and phthalates, but food manufacturers must do their part too. Companies in Japan have already eliminated BPA from food cans. Now consumers must urge companies in the US to follow suit.

The Breast Cancer Fund makes it easy to send messages to General Mills, Del Monte, and Campbell Soup Company. Follow this link to fill in your contact information and choose the suggested text or write your own.

It's important to note that although avoiding packaged foods and drinks will reduce our exposure to BPA and phthalates, we can be exposed in other ways. These environmental toxins have been detected in drinking water and air pollution. They are also found in clothing, personal care products, pesticides, electronics, table cloths, shower curtains and other plastic items.


Rudel RA et al. Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2011 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print]


Anonymous said...

Hello, Dr. Cimperman,

Thanks for your many useful articles.
Is the chemical here bisphenyl A or bisphenol A
(or whatever other letter it is?)

Who discovered these first?

Reader at QBPL, NYC.

Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND said...

It's bisphenol A. There was a typo but I have corrected it.