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What does BPA stand for?

BPA stands for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that has been used since the early 60s to make resins and certain plastics. BPA is found in epoxy resins that are used to coat metals including bottle tops, food cans and water supplies and poly-carbonate plastics that are often used to make containers that stores beverages and foods such as water bottles.

BPA was discovered in1890s. In the 1950s, chemists realized that it could be mixed with other compounds to produce stronger plastics. Today BPA is commonly used to make baby bottles, food containers among other items. Some of the products that may contain BPA include:

Toiletries Canned foods Household electronics Sports equipment Eyeglass lenses Feminine hygiene products Products packed in food containers CDs and DVDs

Health risk of BPA

Possible side effects of BPA first made headlines in 2008. BPA has been used to make plastics products for nearly 40 years. Data released by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that more than 90% of all Americans have BPA in their bodies, with the highest levels found in children aged 1-6 years.

BPA can seep into beverages or food from containers that are made with this chemical. CDC pointed out that people are usually exposed to BPA when they consume water or foods that have been stored in containers that contain BPA. Children can also be exposed when they put BPA product in their mouth. Consumption of food and beverages heated or stored in containers containing BPA is considered as the primary source of exposure to humans. However, people can also be exposed via dermal absorption and inhalation of containers or dust containing BPA.

Other means of exposure include

Working in places that produce BPA products Having dental sealants that contain BPA Using products that contain acid liquid to clean BPA containers

The food and drug administration (FDA) used to say that BPA products are safe. However, in 2010, the agency changed its position but still maintained that low exposure to BPA is not harmful to humans. However, the agency expressed some concerns about potential effects when exposed for an extended period, including behavioral change, brain damage and development issues in young children. The agency still supports the use of BPA in food packaging. According to the FDA, the amount of BPA that leaches into food too small to cause any health concern.

How does BPA harm the body?

BPA affects your health in more ways than you can imagine. This toxic chemical has been linked to causing neurological, immunity and reproductive problems. It also increases the chances of getting Alzheimer, childhood asthma, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases. BPA is soluble. This means that when it is heated or when it comes in contact with liquids, the bond that it had formed with the plastic is broken, allowing it to seep into your beverage or food.

Top health risk of BPA

A· Cancer

Anytime someone talks about health risks of consuming certain products, be it food or beverage, one risk that is always mentioned is cancer. We have heard this so many times to the point that we are almost becoming used to it. However, when it comes to BPA exposure, this claim is valid. A study on BPA found out that this chemical can interact with estrogen and other crucial hormones to compromise specific cell receptors. This can lead to the development of ovary, prostate and ovary cancer. Studies have also found out that BPA can compromise the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer patients.

B· It affects brain function

Despite FDA claim that current exposure to PBA is safe, many researchers don't agree with that. A study by the Duke University Medical Center found out that BPA disrupts the way your brain regulates genes. Additionally, it also affects natural removal of excessive chloride in the brain which has been linked to causing Alzheimer disease, dementia and other cognitive disorders.

C· Increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease

The number of people suffering from diabetes and heart disease in the US has nearly tripled over the last two decades. Although many researchers have blamed sedentary lifestyle for increased cases of heart disease and diabetes, research has also found that BPA exposure increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Multiple clinical studies conducted have found out that their link between these two diseases and BPA. However, scientists are yet to establish how they interact.

D· Infertility and fetal issues

A study found out that increased exposure the BPA can affect fetal development. When BPA gets to the females body, it tricks the reproductive system to think that it is a hormone. It later blocks or compromises natural hormones that are supposed to do the work, thus reducing the quality of eggs produced. It also alters fetus DNA, which can lead to congenital disabilities.

E· Causes weight gain

BPA has been liked to causing weight gain. By acting as a hormone, BPA interferes with the production of insulin, causing an increase in the production of fat cells

How to identify and choose the right products

With many people now aware of the harmful effects of BPA on the body, many people are keen when buying plastic products. Unfortunately, most consumers are usually duped by fraudulent manufacturers who are keen on making profits at the expense of innocent consumers. Since they need to stay in business, what most manufacturers have done is replacing BPA with a synthesized chemical known and Bisphenol S (BPS) and market them as BPA free. However, research has shown that BPS has the same harmful effect on the body as BPA.

How to identify BPA free containers?

Now the million-dollar question is: how can you correctly identify PBA free products? Below are tips on how to tell if the plastic is BPA free.

Turn the container upside down then check the bottom to see if the container has a recycling code. The code is written in numbers. If you see 1, 2, 5 and 6, then the chances are that the container is BPA free. On the other hand, if the container has 3 or PVC, then chances are that it contains BPA. If the container is labelled 7, then it is difficult to determine if it has BPA or not because 7 is considered a “catch-all” category. However, if the container is made of PVC, then you should avoid it because it contains BPA.

How to minimize BPA exposure

Avoid food and beverages packed in plastic containers Avoid BPA products, check recycling number avoid those with number 3 and 7. Avoid heating food on plastic Store food in glass instead of on plastic Avoid storing food in containers while they are still hot Avoid storing acidic foods such as tomato sauce in plastics Breastfeed your baby instead of bottle-feeding

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