BPA danger: Blood Pressure
Perhaps you’ve heard of bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical compound found in plastic bottles and packaging and in the linings of food and drink cans.
Even if you haven’t heard of it, you have most definitely been exposed to it. In fact, more than 92 percent of people ages 6 and older have detectable levels of BPA in their urine. Why is that?
For starters, just look in your kitchen pantry. Most of the food in there is probably stored in plastic containers or cans. Then look around the rest of your house. Toys, electronics, computers, even toothbrushes…there’s plastic everywhere. Now you can see why you simply cannot escape this chemical.
You should be concerned about BPA because research has linked it to several serious health problems.
Your Hormones, Your Heart, and More
BPA is an endocrine disruptor. This means it mimics naturally occurring hormones in the body (including estrogen, androgens, and even thyroid hormones). By disturbing the balance and overstimulating production of these hormones, BPA can raise the risk of early onset puberty, erectile dysfunction, infertility, endometriosis, and cancers such as prostate, ovarian, and breast.
But that’s not all. Its effects extend well beyond hormonal and reproductive issues. This compound has also been shown to cause asthma, obesity, and memory loss.
Recently, scientists even discovered that BPA can trigger an almost immediate spike in blood pressure.
In this study, 60 participants were asked to drink a beverage from cans or glass bottles on three different occasions, several weeks apart. Urinary BPA levels and blood pressure were then tested.
Results showed that within a couple hours of drinking from glass, BPA levels remained low. But after drinking the canned beverages, BPA concentrations measured 1,600 percent higher.
At the same time, blood pressure also increased by 4.5 mmHg.
A single, acute surge in blood pressure may not cause any long-term problems. But think about how often you pour yourself a drink out of a plastic bottle or can. (I certainly hope you’re not overindulging in sugary drinks or sodas, but let’s face it—we’re all human. Sometimes you just do.) It’s this constant, repeated rise and fall in blood pressure that can impact your heart.
But there are simple ways to reduce your exposure to this dangerous chemical.
You Can Reduce Your Exposure
As I mentioned earlier, BPA is nearly impossible to avoid completely. But you can lessen your exposure.
- Be wary of “BPA free.” Avoid all plastic whenever possible—even BPA-free bottles and containers. A very recent study just concluded that BPA substitutes, such as BPS and BPF, also have dangerous hormone- and endocrine-disrupting effects. So BPA free does not automatically mean safe.
- Go for glass. For food storage, glass is your safest option. Fortunately, you can find glass containers and reusable water bottles pretty much everywhere these days. Stainless steel is another option, but be careful—sometimes these bottles have plastic lining on the inside.
- Don’t heat plastic in the microwave. When you do use plastic, don’t put it in the microwave. Heat causes chemicals to leach into food. Place your meal on a glass or ceramic plate prior to heating.
- Limit canned foods. I know that avoiding canned foods entirely would be a tall order. So try minimizing. Start by staying away from canned fruits and vegetables. The processing alone eliminates most of the nutritional value. Stick with fresh as your top choice and frozen as your second choice. (Remember, frozen veggie bags may contain BPA. Don’t microwave them directly in the bag.)
- Second, buy dried beans in bulk. If you do use canned beans, rinse them thoroughly prior to eating. And, rather than using canned tomato products, consider making your own sauce with fresh, in-season tomatoes and freezing it.
Finally, protect your heart by taking steps to control your blood pressure. Even if you don’t have hypertension, this study shows that it doesn’t take much to cause a spike. Exercise regularly, reduce stress, drink plenty of water, and take blood pressure-normalizing nutrients such as nattokinase, grapeseed extract, and omega-3 essential fatty acids.