Plastic Industry, Toxic Concerns
Health Concerns About Plastic
Reader Question: I've been hearing a lot of bad things about plastic lately. Does it really cause cancer and heart disease?
It's not entirely clear. Studies done in rodents have linked Bisphenol A (BPA)—a chemical that's commonly found in plastics—to a variety of health problems. Scientists are currently trying to understand the effect it might have on humans. Recently, a study published inThe Journal of the American Medical Associationfound an association between BPA and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and liver problems (but not cancer). People with the highest levels of BPA (compared to those with the lowest levels) had triple the odds of heart disease and were nearly two and a half times more likely to have diabetes—but still, a definite cause and effect hasn't been proven.
Experts say that BPA has estrogen-like effects in the body, and that it damages the liver and the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Some say it may also promote obesity. What we don't know is how much BPA is safe. Right now, the FDA says that low levels of BPA are safe.
Unfortunately, you can't avoid BPA completely: Worldwide production is about 7 billion pounds per year; it's used to make all kinds of things from baby bottles and refillable water bottles to the lining of metal food cans. When you get a receipt, you are often exposed because it's also used in making "carbonless" paper.
Here's what you can do: Reduce your exposure. Start by checking the number within the "chasing arrows" recycling symbol on the bottom of plastic containers. Usually (but not always), plastics that contain BPA will have a #7 printed on the bottom (and those with numbers 1–6 do not contain it). Always take food out of plastic containers before you microwave—high temperatures make the plastic more likely to break down and could increase exposure. Since babies and kids may be especially vulnerable, take extra care to use BPA-free bottles; bottles containing BPA are already being phased out of production.
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Disclaimer: Your seeking information on health related topics and/or Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD's providing such information herein constitutes neither the solicitation of nor the provision of medical advice, services, care or treatment. Communication with Dr. Fryhofer on this website does not create a doctor/patient relationship. For concerns about your own particular medical condition, you should consult your own medical professional, who can examine and evaluate you. Communication on a website is not a substitute for taking an active role in your own medical care and treatment and being personally seen by a physician of choice in your area.
Video: Health Concerns And Plastic Food Containers
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