Volume 1: Issue #7
Common Chemical in Food Packaging
is Messing Us Up
More than 38 million Americans have a thyroid problem, and most don’t know it.
It’s a serious concern: When your thyroid goes awry, your health also takes a dive. If you suffer from low energy, constipation, depression and weight gain – all at the same time – you may suffer from hypothyroidism or low thyroid function. It’s thought to be one of the most common undiagnosed health conditions in the country.
And beware: A troubling source of the threat to this endocrine gland may be sitting on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator. Here’s what’s going on. . .
The thyroid has to maintain a delicate balance, neither being overactive nor underactive but helping the body maintain an even physiological keel. If it runs too slow, you gain weight. Too fast, and your weight drops dangerously. Thyroid difficulties can also lead to mood swings, brain fog and infertility. In children, an underactive thyroid can be fatal. Small, invisible amounts of toxic chemicals can generate huge problems.
The chemicals in food containers
Alarmingly, the plastic water bottles that many people drink from and the plastic that wraps our food – as well as the chemical coatings in cans – are increasing the risk that your thyroid will malfunction.
The substance BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that acts as a “plasticizer,” making plastic more flexible. It doesn’t stay in food and drink packaging where it belongs. Instead this endocrine-disrupting compound leaches from the container into the food and beverages inside. When you ingest them, the BPA interferes with your hormones and the endocrine glands that secrete them.
BPA has been controversial for years. Recent attempts by food companies to substitute “safer” compounds in plastic have failed, Research shows the new plasticizers (such as BPS) are just as bad. So a food package that says BPA-free should not fool you into thinking a plastic container is safe to use.
Traces of these chemicals are now in all of us. They’ve been identified in urine, human breast milk, amniotic fluid, the liver and blood (including umbilical cord blood).1
The situation has gotten so serious that Nancy Wayne, a Ph.D. and researcher at UCLA, admits she’s thrown out all of her family’s plastic food containers and now uses glass ones instead. And when she buys food and drink, she purchases them in glass containers whenever she can.
“Our findings (about BPA) are frightening and important,” she says.
Accept no substitutes
Dr. Wayne’s lab research has focused on how BPA affects the reproductive system and changes how babies develop in the womb. Plus, her studies have confirmed other research demonstrating that the substitute chemicals corporations have used to replace BPA carry the same dangers.2
“Exposure to low levels of BPA (has) a significant impact on the embryo’s development of brain cells that control reproduction, and the genes that control reproduction later in life,” says Dr. Wayne. “We saw many of these same effects with BPS found in BPA-free products. BPS is not harmless.”
Another source of BPA is cash register receipts – the kind made of thermal paper that feel like the old-style fax paper. They have BPA in their ink. To lower your BPA exposure, you should handle these types of receipts carefully, and you should never handle a receipt after using hand lotion or hand sanitizer – it increases the absorption of BPA through the skin.3
Limit your BPA absorption
While it’s probably impossible to completely avoid exposure to BPA and other similar chemicals, you can potentially limit the amount you take into your body:
- Eat as little canned food as possible. Research shows that BPA levels are higher in canned foods than in items packaged in glass, paper or plastic.4
- Avoid handling receipts whenever possible.
- Handle paper money sparingly. Research shows that almost all bills have BPA on their surfaces, probably picked up from being rubbed against receipts.
- Never heat food in a can or a plastic container – heat increases food’s absorption of BPA from its container. Transfer the food to glass or metal, then heat it.
The research on how BPA and similar chemicals affect our health is still in its infancy. But you should avoid these substances whenever you can. The research we have so far is cause for deep concern – for your thyroid and the rest of your body.