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Canadians contain less BPA than Americans

March 07, 2011

Don't Pollute Me!

Yes, I do mean actual people. According to some puzzling studies, Canadians, in fact, contain about half the levels of controversial BPA in our systems as Americans do, but the reasons as to why are not so clear.

In case you’ve been living in a deep-sea cave somewhere, BPA is a compound commonly used in manufacturing tough plastic. Plastic that not even a baby could break (!), and so has been commonly used in baby bottles, but can be found in canned food, including soft drinks, and other non-food applications such as thermal printing paper. It has also been a known estrogenic since the 1930’s, but has only been rousing any real concern since the past decade or so. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that in this case it mimics estrogen which can lead to problematic sexual development for babies, both in utero and post birth. A frightening study in 2007 reveals that your average human contains way more than what was deemed safe to animals in lab studies, meaning that we’re pretty much all having our hormones screwed with. However, the effects of pervasive estrogen-like hormone has been deemed negligible. Uh, what? You always have to wonder who funded research like that.

The effects of all this fake estrogen in our systems can have a whole slew of effects on people, and not just “baby boys will grow boobs, and women will grow beards” (does anybody know this reference? I give it a very sad LOL). I’m talking about all kinds of problems that are virtually plaguing our lives now; from obesity, to neurological disorders, ADD and ADHD-like symptoms, effects on memory and concentration, thyroid problems, ovarian, breast and prostate cancer, infertility, male sexual dysfunction, heart disease in women (#1 killer now) and earlier puberty for girls.

Canada has banned BPA in the use of baby bottles, and was the first to declare BPA toxic (win!).  The U.S. has also shown signs of following suite, with certain states proposing bans, such as our buddies in Minnesota. However, the mere ban of BPA’d baby bottles doesn’t explain why Canadians have less  Americans seem to have a higher amount of exposure to the nasty hormone-screwing substance, which has led some scientists to believe that it may be because BPA is manufactured in the US, not Canada. This would mean that BPA is leaching into water systems (fish are very sensitive towards BPA), groundwater, possibly soils, and is also airborne. Scary.

What can you do?

  • The greatest concern is for new or expecting parents. Avoid anything with BPA if you are pregnant, which means stick to fresh foods and minimize exposure to plastics (including many shower curtains). If you have a baby, use BPA-free bottles, such as those by Born Free. Also be careful with liquid formulas as they have been shown to contain trace amounts of BPA.
  • Children are often exposed to BPA through the food they eat, so this can be reduced if they eat fresh food prepared at home.
  • Minimize how much plastic to buy and use, especially surrounding anything that is ingested..includig skin absorption. Although BPA is found mostly in plastics #3 and #7, you just shouldn’t risk it. In fact a new study released today reports that even non-BPA plastics may be releasing estrogen-like hormones. Kinda disturbing, non?