Is BPA lurking in that can of tomatoes?You know bisphenol A (BPA) is nasty stuff. And the bad news about this toxin just keeps on coming. A pair of just-released studies links BPA with heart disease, obesity, and diabetes risk.
BPA is an organic compound that's in used plastics, such as water bottles, the lining of canned goods, and thermal receipts. Problem is, BPA mimics estrogen in your body and is thought to disrupt hormone function. BPA is linked to a host of potential health problems, from fertility problems to developmental delays in kids to cancer.
A new study from Britain links high urinary concentrations of BPA in healthy men and women to a higher risk of heart disease 10 years later. In another new study, Chinese researchers linked high concentrations of BPA to obesity -- especially belly fat -- and insulin resistance (a forerunner of diabetes) in middle-aged and elderly people. American researchers have found a similar connection between BPA and type 2 diabetes.
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With that kind of news, you certainly don't want a side order of BPA every time you eat or drink. Simple changes can limit your exposure to BPA and other toxins:
- Opt for fresh food. A study conducted by the Silent Spring Institute and the Breast Cancer Fund found that going on a diet of organic fresh food can reduce urinary levels of BPA and DEHP (a type of phthalate chemical that's also a hormone disruptor) by more than 50% in just three days.
- When you do buy packaged food, look for BPA-free containers. Those include glass jars, aseptic packaging, and BPA-free cans.
- Store food in glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel containers. You can find BPA-free plastic containers, but some researchers have found traces of BPA in those, too.
- Shop for dry goods at the bulk bins. Pick up flour, rice, beans, dried fruit, cereal, and pasta at the bulk bins at health-food stores. Sure, you'll put bulk-bin finds into plastic bags, but you can transfer them BPA-free containers as soon as you get home. (Related: Try these 9 quick-cooking whole grains.)
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers. The heat causes BPA and other chemicals to leach into food. Similarly, don't put plastic containers (if you have 'em) in the dishwasher.
- Don't handle thermal receipts. These are those carbonless receipts that you collect everywhere you go, from the grocery story to the gas station to the ATM. Yep, they have BPA. Refuse receipts if you have the option, and if you do accept receipts, be sure to wash your hands after handling them. Of course, never let the kids play with them. BPA in thermal receipts can be absorbed through your skin, as well as ingested with food.
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