Shopping a health hazard??
It’s hard to believe that something as seemingly harmless as handling cash register receipts can have health ramifications. But that’s the case when 2,2-Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane is involved. Better known by its common name bisphenol A (BPA), the compound is used as an ink adherent in some thermal receipts. This is a disconcerting fact considering trace amounts of BPA can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream by mere touch.
How does this affect us?
The danger lies in BPA’s ability to mimic the chemical behavior of estrogen. Particularly, Bisphenol A targets the endocrine system which plays an integral role in regulating your body’s cell-to-cell communication. Endocrine glands secrete chemical signals directly into extracellular fluid which successively enter the blood. So if you introduce a foreign substance like BPA into your bloodstream, even in low-dose form, it can interfere with your body’s ability to carry out its normal cellular functions.
Products that can contain Bisphenol A:
- Dental materials such as composites or sealants
- Polycarbonate plastics
- Thermal cash register receipts
- Epoxy resin linings of metal food canned containers
- Drinking water
What is being done to limit exposure?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued BPA action plans and are encouraging safer alternatives to thermal paper and other products that contain bisphenol A. But even in light of educational efforts and BPA bans particular to twelve different states, the chemical is still ubiquitous. For instance, even with current legislation prohibiting major retailers from using thermal receipts, these receipts are still being used to make recycled paper products such as tissue and toilet paper which re-introduces the problem.
Some of the Possible Health Effects:
Exposure can adversely affect reproduction. For men, it has the potential to damage the blood-testis barrier. This barrier is formed by tight junctions between Sertoli cells and serves to nurture developing sperm cells. Disturbing these cell junctions can decrease fertility by interrupting the normal biosynthetic pathway. Research conducted by the Department of Reproductive Endocrinology at the University of Nice also links fetal and perinatal exposure to adult reproductive diseases.
Mammary tissue can be harmed. Low dose perinatal BPA exposure can increase chances to develop breast cancer later in life by stimulating breast cancer tissue growth. Pregnant woman, the developing fetus and children are particularly susceptible to risk.
Bisphenol A is an obesogen which is a foreign substance that promotes obesity. Particularly, BPA interferes with hormones that influence adipose (fat) tissues and appetite control.
A recently published UK EPIC-Norfolk cohort study links higher urinary concentrations of BPA metabolites with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Furthermore, a Harvard study found that experiment participants who ate 12 oz of canned soup daily increased the amount of BPA in urine by 1000%.
Tips on how to minimize BPA exposure:
-Filter drinking water
-Store drinks-on-the-go in stainless steel bottles
- Use BPA-free plastic products
- Avoid heating food or beverages in plastic containers. Opt for glass or ceramic.
- Avoid eating canned food products particularly canned soup which retains the highest concentration of BPA from leaching of the lining. Instead purchase products in glass containers or tetra packs.
- Don’t buy plastic bottles with the “PC” label #7 because there is a higher chance that these contain BPA
- Opt for powdered formula or glass/BPA-free bottles for feeding infants