Bisphenol A Exposure Increases Risk of Heart Disease: What Can Be Done?
There has been a great deal of hysteria recently over the latest study that revealed an association between Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure and heart disease. Let’s breakdown EXACTLY what the study found, what the sources of exposure are, and what you can do as a consumer should you choose to avoid the potential risks associated with BPA.
What the study found
The study is based on samples and data from the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a massive health-census conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC takes numerous health measurements, dietary info, blood and urine samples, et cetera from thousands of people and makes it available to researchers.
The study looked at 1,455 adults from the NHAMES census, age 18 to 74, and measured the concentration of BPA in their urine (the primary way that BPA is eliminated from the body is in urine). Researchers found that persons in the study with the highest levels (top 25%) of BPA were 2.9 times more likely to have also reported to the NHAMES census that they have some form of cardiovascular disease.
As I mentioned in my previous BPA post, this study merely notes that there is an association between increased cardiovascular disease and BPA. It does not prove BPA causes heart disease as there are many confounding factors. For example, another recent study associated soft-drink intake with heart disease regardless of whether it was regular (with nasty high-fructose corn syrup in it - a known cardiometabolic risk factor) or a diet drink. Again, this study merely associated soft-drink intake with heart disease. It did not prove it. My bet is that diet drinks are still far more heart-healthy but that people who consume large amounts of soft-drinks of either kind probably eat other unhealthy foods along with it. It is that part of that faulty dietary mentality that believes we can counteract the burger and fries we had for lunch by ordering a diet drink with it! So, do soft-drinks or BPA cause heart disease? Nobody knows just yet but some of the BPA data does look suspicious.
For the first time, researchers conducted a large-scale human study that confirms what has been observed in numerous animal models. Perhaps most concerning is that the levels found were significantly below what the FDA considers safe. The FDA limit is 2273 micrograms (millionths of a gram) per pound of body weight per day with estimates the average adults receives about 0.185 micrograms per day, thousands of time lower then the FDA safe limit. The study subjects with the increased heart disease risk were estimated to be receiving hundreds of times less than the FDA limit!
How can I avoid Bisphenol A exposure?
If you buy into the theory that BPA causes heart disease or at least want to eliminate the potential risk you may it find somewhat of a challenge to completely avoid BPA. It is widely used in a number of plastics simply because it is cheap, FDA approved, and works well to make plastics strong and shatterproof. Not surprisingly, it has found its way into an unbelievable array of plastic products. Here is a short list to give you an idea of how pervasive BPA is in modern life. You can find BPA in:
Published On: September 20, 2008
The nationwide recycling phenomenon has also produced a clever way to provide consumer information on BPA. Most plastic products have a symbol on them like the one shown that allows them to be sorted by what they are made of for recycling purposes. Each number corresponds to a different plastic type. Those with the number “3” (polyvinylchloride or PVC) or “7” (polycarbonates) are often made with BPA. Note that recycling type “7” covers many other types of plastics and not all PVC plastic (type “3”) contains BPA.
There are, of course, many common sense ways to avoid BPA. The primary source of exposure to BPA is through foods that come in contact with plastic containers. The BPA leeches in to the food products you eat. The process is accelerated by exposure to heat. This allows consumers to come up with multiple guidelines to reduce BPA exposure such as:
- Avoid products in plastic and can packaging in favor of those in cardboard or glass.
- Do not heat or microwave foods in plastic containers.
- Wait for hot foods to cool before placing them in plastic containers.
- Use copper or other metal piping in place of PVC for plumbing installation and repairs.
- Ask your dentist, doctor, optometrist and other medical advisors whether BPA is in the products the use to treat you.
Although the FDA still considers BPA safe (read their statement) is may be prudent to weigh the risks and decide for yourself whether to work at reducing your BPA exposure. Naturally, the chemical industry makes many arguments in favor of BPA. As consumers we are constantly bombarded with risks of all sorts, not just BPA. Good health consumers are those who take matters into their own hands by studying these risks and making informed decisions about whether those risks are worth accepting or worth working to avoid.
- The nationwide recycling phenomenon has also produced a clever way to provide consumer information on BPA. Most plastic products have a symbol on them like the one shown that allows them to be sorted by what they are made of for recycling purposes. Each number corresponds to a different plastic type. Those with the number “3” (polyvinylchloride or PVC) or “7” (polycarbonates) are often made with BPA. Note that recycling type “7” covers many other types of plastics and not all PVC plastic (type “3”) contains BPA.