Written by Gabriela Segura, MD
Friday, 6 February 2009 21:08

Plastics come in all sorts of shapes and colors to make our lives easier and more convenient, containing certain substances that improve their performance and also makes them less expensive. In general we are told that plastics have a low profile of toxicity due to its properties, for example water and relative chemical inertness. What we are usually not told is that plastics contain additional toxic substances -bisphenol A (BPA) used to strengthen some plastics and phthalates used to soften others- which at small concentrations cause a lot of problems.

BPA is found in baby and water bottles, can linings, laboratory flasks, plastic food containers, dental sealants, CD cases, eye glasses, soft drinks, and thousands of other household products. It is a “high production” chemical that is also used in plastic and epoxy resins.

Phthalates are found in children’s toys, vinyl shower curtains, salad dressings, cooking oil bottles, medical devices, building materials, personal-care products, food packaging, pharmaceuticals materials, some medication coatings such as -theophylline (for asthma and lung disease medication), omeprazole (an ulcer treatment), mesalamine (used to treat colitis)- and cleaning materials.

These chemicals are found everywhere in the environment and they enter our bodies through food, water, bits of household dust we consume, or they are absorbed through the skin. Eventually they get stored in fat cells making us unable to get rid of them! According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study, BPA was found in the urine of 95% of the people tested and another study found that most newborns (9 out of 10) were born with BPA in their systems. Also when researchers examined the water of the Pacific Ocean they found it contained 6 times as much plastic as plankton by weight!

BPA and phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals which mimic hormones such as estrogen and they’re linked with breast and prostate cancer, early onset puberty, type II diabetes, inflammation, attention deficit, hyperactivity, inability to handle stress, violence, increased mental disease, decreased intelligence, anxiety, drug addiction, loss of normal parental instincts, infertility, abnormal sexual behavior, altered immune function, increased fat formation, structural damage to the brain, intestinal damage, heart disease, developmental problems, male genital defects, reduced testosterone levels, liver function problems, liver cancer etc. And children being most vulnerable to be affected… In addition, phthalates have been found to exacerbate dermatitis in lab tests with mammals and may likely increase allergic reactions in young animals when exposed to the chemical through their mother’s milk. Notice how allergic skin conditions are on the rise! BPA also suppresses a key hormone, adiponectin, which is responsible for regulating insulin sensitivity in the body which means that people are at a substantially higher risk for metabolic syndrome which can lead to stroke other than diabetes and heart problems already mentioned above.

Plastics that are worn out or that are heated in the microwave or just by drinking a hot cup of coffee from a plastic-lined paper cup you could be exposed to 55 times more BPA than usual and this chemical is by itself so powerful that even at extremely low levels -parts per billion or even parts per trillion – it can cross the placenta and alter the mammary gland of a developing fetus, increasing breast cancer risk later in life.

Yet after all of this information, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that BPA is safe for all use, but this should not come as a surprise. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that entire sections of the FDA’s assessment on BPA contained identical language to reports written on behalf of chemical-makers or others with a financial stake in BPA. Yes, so once more, industry-financed studies were favored by federal regulators, while they ignored hundreds of independent studies that found the chemical to cause harm. At least a FDA advisory panel admitted that the FDA was in error and stated it would initiate research to investigate the toxic effects of BPA on babies less than one month old. Now, the FDA is reconsidering hundreds of independent research studies and that at currently approved levels, BPA is not safe.

Some phthalates are among the chemicals banned recently in the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act, including some phthalates in children’s toys and products in all but the smallest amounts.

Detox tips

Get a hold of a far infrared sauna and if that is not an option, make sure you exercise often. Get rid of all plastics from your kitchen (don’t burn them, it is highly toxic!). Use only glass containers and if you choose to microwave your food, don’t do it in a plastic container or plastic wraps. Avoid using plastic bottled water; filter your own using a reverse osmosis filter or use distilled water). Give your baby natural fabric toys. Avoid buying canned foods and drinks.

In addition, you can find a healthy diet and some recommended supplements for detox in the following entry.

Resources

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
NewsInferno.com
ConsumerReports.org
University of Cincinnati Health News
Mercola.com
JAMA
and Archives Journals (2008, September 16). Higher Urinary Levels of Commonly Used Plastic Compound, BPA, Linked To Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes. Science Daily.
Physorg.com
theglobeandmail.com

Further reading

Get Plastic Out Of Your Diet by Paul Goettlich

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