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Are the BPA-Free Plastics Like Tritan Safe?

Do BPA-free plastics such as Tritan, have human hormone-disrupting effects? And what about BPS and BPF?

Recent human studies indicate that exposure to the plastics chemical BPA may be associated with infertility, miscarriage, premature delivery, reduced male sexual function, polycystic ovaries, altered thyroid and immune function, diabetes, heart disease, and more. Yet, “[a]s recently as March 2012, FDA stated that low levels of BPA in food are considered safe.” However, just months later, to its credit, the agency banned the use of BPA plastics in baby bottles and sippy cups. Regulators standing up to industry? Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical! But, wait. The ban was at the behest of the plastics industry. It had already stopped using BPA in baby bottles so it was their idea to ban it.

The industry had switched from BPA to similar compounds like BPF and BPS. So, our diets now contain everything from BPA to BPZ, and the majority of us have these new chemicals in our bodies as well. Are they any safer?

As I discuss in my video Are the BPA-Free Alternatives Safe?, based on the similarities of their chemical structures, they are all predicted to affect testosterone production and estrogen receptor activity, as you can see at 1:40 in my video. However, they were only recently put to the test.

As you can see at 1:50 in my video, we’ve known BPA significantly suppresses testosterone production, and, from “the first report describing BPS and BPF adverse effects on physiologic function in humans,” we know those compounds do, too. Well, kind of. The experiments were performed on the testicles of aborted human fetuses. But, the bottom line is that BPS and BPF seem to have “antiandrogenic anti-male hormone effects that are similar to those of BPA.” So when you’re assured you shouldn’t worry because your sales slip is BPA-free, the thermal paper may just contain BPS instead. What’s more, BPS receipts may contain up to 40 percent more BPS than they would have contained BPA. So BPA-free could be even worse. In fact, all BPA-replacement products tested to date released “chemicals having reliably detectable EA,” estrogenic activity.

This includes Tritan, which is specifically marketed as being estrogen-activity-free. As you can see at 3:06 in my video, however, researchers dripped an extract of Tritan on human breast cancer cells in a petri dish, and it accelerated their growth. This estrogenic effect was successfully abolished by an estrogen blocker, reinforcing it was an estrogen effect. Now, the accelerated growth of the cancer cells from the Tritan extract occurred after the plastic was exposed to the stressed state of simulated sunlight. Only one out of three Tritan products showed estrogen activity in an unstressed state, for instance when they weren’t exposed to microwaving, heat, or UV rays. “Because there would be no value in trading one health hazard for another, we should urgently focus on the human health risk assessment of BPA substitutes.”

In the meanwhile, there are steps we can take to limit our exposure. We can reduce our use of polycarbonate plastics, which are usually labeled with recycle codes three or seven, and we can opt for fresh and frozen foods over canned goods, especially when it comes to tuna and condensed soups. Canned fruit consumption doesn’t seem to matter, but weekly canned vegetable consumption has been associated with increased BPA exposure. If you do use plastics, don’t microwave them, put them in the dishwasher, leave them in the sun or a hot car, or use once they’re scratched. But using glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers is probably best.


For more on BPA, check out my videos:

Unfortunately, BPA isn’t the only plastics chemical that may have adverse health effects. See:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


25 responses to “Are the BPA-Free Plastics Like Tritan Safe?

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  1. I love your videos and your sound advice. I am turning over a new leaf at 87 and going plant-based, no dairy, meat, processed food, etc. I’m only worried about one thing: my daughter-in-law used to say, “You’ll bury us all,” and that’s the last thing I want to do. Dying has an appeal for me because it will be the end of my cynophobia, which usually prevents me from leaving the house (I loved hating your dog in one video). But I’m not ready to relinquish my curiosity and die…unless Trump is re-elected. I remember Pritikin and The China Study, but you’re my favorite.

    1. Good for you. Would recommend B12 & Omega 3 supplementation if going vegan. I throw in a few tblspns of flax seeds in my smoothie and that helps with the Omega 3.

      1. Yes, Vit B-12 supplementation is important, Flax can give you a lot of Omega 3, DHA and EPA supplementation form Algae good too. Vit D supplementation good too!!

    1. Frozen Fruits and Veggies in Plastic are great, don’t cook in the plastic. Take them out before cooking or eating. I eat Frozen berries without thawing in Microwave. I cook the Veggies in Microwave and put on Pasta Sauce or my Home Made Marinara

  2. Life is so complex. My Vitamix container is made of “BPA-free Eastman Tritan Copolyester”. Now I am wondering how safe is my morning smoothie. My understanding is this same “stuff” is used in some medical apparatus. I frequently consume canned beans. It is very difficult to avoid contamination.

    1. oster sells a number of blenders/ice-crushers/food processors that use glass jar containers. the jars come in different shapes and sizes. i, personally have used several of them and have been pleased. i especially like the fact that they easily withstand dishwashing machines and if you break one, there are replacement jars available via google or amazon.

      1. lynn,

        I have several Oster kitchen appliances, including an old Osterizer (a blender) which is more than 30 years old; I used it to make puréed baby foods when my daughter was an infant. And it still works! Though I don’t use it every day. And I don’t know if I could still get replacement parts for it. And the container is glass, the blades metal, but the lid is some sort of plastic. And they are all dishwasher safe. (Though my husband hand washes them; he says he prefers that to the dishwasher. He does the dishes; I don’t comment.)

    1. That’s my problem with this woe. Toooooo much things to worry about. I’m getting very anxious and discouraged reading all these dos and donts. Very anxious.

  3. GREAT NEWS (???)

    Recently Dr Greger posted about Green Tea

    https://nutritionfacts.org/2020/06/02/boosting-antiviral-immune-function-with-green-tea/

    I decided to try it and I keep feeling better since.

    Especially:

    Is it possible that my knee cartiladge is growing back? (I have been diagnosed with severe Osteoarthritis. A MRI revealed a “complete denudation of cartiladge.”) But, since I have been drinking Bigelow brand organic decaffeinated green tea, my knee pain has been receding as well as the grinding. (In a month or so I’ll get another MRI to see if I am fooling myself.)

    If true, perhaps the supposed/possible autoimmune disease is being defeated.

    If true, the green tea may be working together with kale, broccoli, apple skin, tomato puree, onion etc (all organic)

    I hope, I hope.

    1. Great news Sydney! Please update us if your MRI shows progress… would be useful information. I try to drink. Green tea but like black tea so much better… maybe knowing it could help the knee cartilage would provide more will power!

  4. There are many evil chemicals to keep out of our plastics.. glass when possible or stainless steel. We need to bring more awareness to the masses to stop these companies from just creating another bad chemical for us all to avoid. This is where an idea whose time has come as Victor Hugo said best .

  5. Hello NF team,
    I’m wondering about the plastic copolyester? My dentist made me a night guard and when I asked for ingredients it was 95% Copolyester and 5% secret ingredient. Should I worry about having this in my mouth all night and biting on it as it slowly breaks down? Seems like a bad idea. Thanks

    1. “Secret” ingredients do seem like a bad idea or at least one you’d want more information about When I did research on this it seems there are various types of night guards, some soft and some more rigid and some hybrids like this one: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319040938_The_bilaminar_Dual-Laminate_protective_night_guard
      I think checking out the above resource might prepare you to then ask the questions about potential toxic effects with the question directed to the manufacturer of the night guard. DDS Labs has a fairly complete review of mouth guards (https://blog.ddslab.com/night-guard-material-safety-acrylic-bpa-and-phthalates) and their comment encourages you to seek the information you want: “…If you are at all concerned about the chemicals used in the production of night guards, your dental laboratory should be able to tell you exactly what is in any given material.advice is. ” I hope you can obtain the answer you want and it’s reassuring to you.

  6. Sorry for both the off-topic inquiry and length. I need some advice. (Thea /Toxins still around?)

    Dear Dr Greger:

    I’m writing today in need of some advice. I know that you are extremely busy, and I appreciate all that you have done for the general public over the years. Having used your site for nearly the past decade as a jumping off point for further research analyses, I owe you a deep level of gratitude and sincere appreciation. Your careful perusal of the scientific journals and subsequent reporting has helped not only myself but literally millions across the globe.

    After a few years of nearly daily browsing of nutritionfacts.org, PCRM and Doc McDougall’s site, and becoming WFPB, I took Dr Caldwell B Esselstyn’s online course in nutrition and have tried to impart this knowledge to as many that would engage in a nuanced and as bias free conversation as possible. In this seemingly unending binary and dogmatic rotation of fad diets that pervades the air waves, this can be a challenge. I admire your stamina and dedication.

    That said, I’m writing on behalf of my mother today. After a decade and a half of attempting to nail down the cause of her issues, the Mayo Clinic has finally come up with an answer: Primary Biliary Cholangitis.

    Last night, I scoured pubmed and your site for some insight. Most of the studies that I looked up have pay walls for full text versions, and I certainly don’t have the resources to purchase them all. I also searched your site to no avail. I realize the Mayo Clinic certainly know what they are doing, however I’d like to know your opinion as to how a WFPB diet could affect the outcome. She has been diagnosed as a stage 2+, is 77 years old, has high blood pressure and hypothyroidism. My understanding is that this condition is an autoimmune response, thus I was hoping you’d have some advice nutritionally as well.

    I will CC Dr Neal Barnard’s clinic as well with hopes for a consult, but my mother’s state of residence is not on his list of accepted states. Thus, if you know of any scientific literature that would support her switching to a whole food plant based diet, I would certainly appreciate the help. She’s taken my advice in the past, as she knows my approach to nutrition is serious and dedicated; however, she has had the same issues many of us do in dropping dairy and other animal-based foods.

    I have resided in Indonesia for the past 22 years, have been WFPB for almost a decade, exercise daily, am 51 years old, no serious illness, can’t remember the last time I had a prescription drug and very healthy and fit. I’m considering moving back to Wisconsin for the purpose of a live liver donor screening for her. She is O-positive and I am O-negative. I’ve read that the Rh factor is not an issue.

    I realize that any specific medical advice should really only be communicated after a proper consult, so I don’t expect that. Just your honest opinion with the weight of your knowledge and possibly some links or pdfs to studies that I could guide her through.

    Thank you so much for your time and effort.

    Best Regards,

    Michael Lederer

    1. Michael,

      There is indeed information to suggest the WFBP diet is appropriate for your mom. Consider the Liver Foundations take at: https://liverfoundation.org/primary-biliary-cholangitis-diet-eat-avoid/ At least their top of the list….not so much the rest :). Or perhaps some personal takes at Forks over Knives: https://www.forksoverknives.com/success-stories/i-reversed-cirrhosis-after-1-year-on-a-plant-based-diet/

      One of the few pubmed pieces is a bit too wishy washy for me: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499388/ as they want the RCT’s to prove but none the less are positive on a plant based potentials.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

      1. Dear Dr Kadish,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my rambling inquiry. I did read the pubmed article and agree that it lacks evidentiary focus, but at least there are some data to suggest the efficacy of our lifestyle. The testimonial will help anyway.

        As my mother did adopt some healthier choices upon my suggestions many years ago and saw distinct health benefits, she remains skeptical to fully incorporate a WFPB approach. Unfortunately, I think the dogma associated through the medical industry complex has too strong a grip on her to fully internalize this all natural method and its proven benefits. Thus, although she understands my full dedication and education behind what I tell her, she seems wholly unconvinced.

        After a video meeting with family last night, I will fly back to the United States to begin the evaluation process at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. That said, as a good faith quid pro quo of my willingness to undergo this procedure, I’m hoping that prior to the live donor operation, she will follow a WFPB lifestyle for 30 days with me and visit a health facility/doctor that supports this lifestyle. Mind you, I won’t require her to do so, I’m hoping that she herself will volunteer given the intrusive nature of the operation and its inherent risks for us both.

        I noticed and checked out the link to your practice. Unfortunately, Oregon is a bit too far. If you have any advice on any WFPB practitioners (internist/gastroenterologist) in the Wisconsin/Illinois/Minnesota, I would be highly appreciative.

        Thanks so much for your care in replying to my predicament. Please stay safe and healthy.

        Michael

  7. You already know that the evidence is in that a WFPB diet reduces inflamation and improves immune function. That alone could be motivation for her to try this diet. If she did it temporarily and got results she could make a decision later. My parents both died of cancer. You could talk til you were blue in the face – so the expression goes – and they would never try a plant based diet. My mother did introduce many more plants into her diet at the end of her life and made green soups. As a result I think she lived a lot longer than she should have. She smoked all her life and was obese but still lived to be 81 years old.

    1. Dear Val K

      You are absolutely right in that I have the knowledge to help my mother. Like yourself, years ago I imparted as much as possible, and she did begin her own personal journey of at least trying to limit animal based and highly processed foods. Further, she began adding far more vegetable based calories as a result. She did see more than modest gains but remained skeptical about going all the way.

      I will go home soon, have her agree (hopefully she will but certainly not required, as I’m willing to give half my liver) to 30 days WFPB and visit either a plant based gastroenterologist with further hepatology focus/internist. If anybody knows a good one in and around the Wisconsin area (Chicago included), please let me know.

      Thanks again for your reply and support.

      Michael

  8. I second the concerns of a previous commenter, Frozen Foods that are frozen in PLASTIC is NO good & certainly no step-up from canned goods. Freezing is a major stressor right along with microwaving and uv exposure! My parents are friends with an industrial chemist in Texas who homesteads and runs his own testing lab. He conducted his own experiments on the leaching of plastic chemicals under common stressors and told my parents flat out that FREEZING caused THE MOST leaching, ofgassing & releasing of toxins from plastic, more than all other stressors COMBINED.

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