We all use plastics. Even those of us who don’t want to admit it, use plastics.
Because plastic is insanely convenient.
Plastic makes a convenient container to store leftovers in from last night's dinner. Plastic makes unbreakable toys for your kids to play with. Plastic makes a shower-safe bottle to hold your shampoos and body washes in the shower ...because would you want to drop a glass bottle in there?
Plastic this, plastic that.
But just like everything in this world –there CAN be too much of a good thing.
According to recent research, almost all plastic products that we use on a day-to-day basis contain some level of BPA –an endocrine disruptor that when interacting with our bodies, is hazardous and toxic to humans.
It doesn’t take a scientist to understand that synthetic products are not the best for our bodies. Human bodies were designed to exist in a natural and active world, and when we bring in synthetic products that are made up of manipulated chemicals –it leads to the potential of our bodies being negatively affected.
Despite having things be more convenient to us in the short term, plastics can lead to some pretty heavy health dangers to us in the long term.
Wait, What’s BPA?
BPA, or Bisphenol A, is as we said earlier, an “endocrine disruptor”. What that means is that it acts as a free radical in the body --a foreign invader that is known to wreak havoc on our bodies’ natural hormonal systems.
What BPA does to our bodies is essentially act as an artificial form of estrogen.
Back in the 1930s, BPA was actually used as an estrogen replacement hormone in therapies for people who could not create enough natural estrogen on their own. But in the 1940s, scientists figured out that they could do a lot more with the chemical besides balance people out.
They discovered that by slightly adjusting the chemical structure used of BPA, they could change the substance to harden and become rigid, allowing BPA to physically take any form they wanted it to –and that is how plastic was born.
What does BPA do to the body, exactly?
What BPA does to the body, among many other negative effects, is provide a synthetic form of estrogen.
A small presence of estrogen in the body is not an issue to be concerned over, but when estrogen is introduced to the body in extreme amounts, it causes the body to change and adapt.
In women, estrogen is the hormone that regulates and supports female sex characteristics such as adding body fat to the breasts and hips, as well as regulate fertility. Now take that exact same estrogen that powerfully affects female bodies and put it in males --the same results achieved in women are attempted in men's bodies. The chemical doesn't know the difference, so it will try and push female characteristics into male bodies, confusing the body’s natural hormone systems.
When estrogen enters into the male body in higher doses than there are of testosterone, men's bodies begin to pack body fat around the breast, as well as their hips and middle. Their genitals can also be affected in terms of fertility, sex drive and their moods can become prone to unpredictable spikes.
Women aren't free from the potential dangers of excess estrogen from BPA, either. BPA causes the female body to overload on estrogen. Irregular menstruation, continued fat collecting along the breasts, hips and middle, as well as a long list of other harmful effects, are just a few of the dangers one can expect.
Our bodies are designed to work with a very specific level of hormones per person, and when one hormone spikes, it causes the entire body to fall out of sync.
How Can I Protect Myself From BPA?
Plastics are pretty much just that –BPA, with only a few minute differences.
Is it possible to use plastic that is free of BPA? Yes, it is possible! But you have to keep an eye out for the label that says that it really is BPA free. But even then, there is a risk that there may still be some BPA present in the final product.
The best way to avoid BPA and all of the side effects it can have on the body is by avoiding plastics altogether. Of course, due to the fact that pretty much everything convenient these days comes packed in plastic, it's pretty difficult to achieve. To cut back and avoid the threat of BPA, here are some steps you can follow:
- Avoid purchasing foods that are packaged in plastic
- Don’t use hard plastic water bottles; use a ceramic or stainless steel canister instead
- Store your leftovers in glass containers instead of plastics
- Use glass bottles to bottle-feed young babies
- Always opt for the BPA-free version of any plastic you need to purchase
With BPA, it is a risk far from an instant death. For adults, it takes constant contact with BPA loaded products for it to manifest itself and be damaging.
Studies show that for those who cut BPA out of their lifestyles, their bodies began to show signs of recovery within just a few short days. The adverse effects showed up in tests again shortly after they resumed using BPA products.
The best way to combat BPA-related harms is to cut out BPA bearing plastics, altogether.
North E., Halden R.. “Plastics and Environmental Health: The Road Ahead”. Rev Environ Health. 2014.
“Bisphenol-A: The Role of the Citizen”. Macalester College. 2008.
Lund BC, et al. "Testosterone And Andropause: The Feasibility Of Testosterone Replacement Therapy In Elderly Men.” Pharmacotherapy. 2017.
“New study shows fresh food diet reduces levels of hormone disruptors BPA and DEHP”. Silent Spring Institute. 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.