Are the BPA-Free Alternatives Safe?

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

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“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 on down the list.

Yet, “[a]s recently as March 2012, FDA stated that low levels of BPA in food are considered safe.” But, months later, to their credit, “the agency banned the use of BPA [plastics] in baby bottles and sippy cups.” Wow, regulators standing up to industry! Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical. Oh, wait, the ban was at the behest of the plastics industry. They had already stopped using BPA in baby bottles; so, ban away—it was their idea.

What they did is switch from BPA to similar compounds, like BPF and BPS. And so, now our diet contains everything from BPA to BPZ. So now, the majority of us have these new chemicals in our bodies, as well. Are they any safer?

Well, based on the similarities of their chemical structures, they are all predicted to affect testosterone production and estrogen-receptor activity. But, only recently were they put to the test.

We’ve known BPA significantly suppresses testosterone production. And now, we know so does BPS and BPF—”the first report describing…adverse effects on a physiologic function in humans…” Well, kinda. These were experiments performed on the testicles of aborted human fetuses. But, bottom line, BPS and BPF seemed to have similar “antiandrogenic”—meaning anti-male hormone—effects to BPA.

So, when you’re assured that, “Don’t worry, your sales slip is ‘BPA-free,’” it may be just BPS instead. And, BPS receipts “may contain up to 40% more” BPS than it would have had BPA. So, BPA-free could be even worse! In fact, all BPA-replacement products tested to date released chemicals “having reliably detectable [estrogenic activity].”

And, this includes Tritan™, which is specifically marketed as being estrogen-activity free. But, drip an extract on human breast cancer cells in a petri dish, and you can accelerate their growth—an effect that’s abolished by an estrogen blocker, as you can see in the red lines. Now, this was after exposing them to simulated sunlight. Only one out of three Tritan products showed estrogen activity in an unstressed state—not 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 [all these] 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 3 or 7, and opt for fresh and frozen food, over canned goods—especially tuna and condensed soups.

Canned fruit consumption didn’t seem to matter, but weekly canned vegetable consumption was associated with increased BPA exposure. If you do use plastics, don’t microwave them, don’t put them in the dishwasher, don’t leave them in the sun or a hot car, or don’t use once scratched. But, using glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers are probably best.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video credit: Daniel Black.

Image credit: Storyblocks. Image has been modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“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 on down the list.

Yet, “[a]s recently as March 2012, FDA stated that low levels of BPA in food are considered safe.” But, months later, to their credit, “the agency banned the use of BPA [plastics] in baby bottles and sippy cups.” Wow, regulators standing up to industry! Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical. Oh, wait, the ban was at the behest of the plastics industry. They had already stopped using BPA in baby bottles; so, ban away—it was their idea.

What they did is switch from BPA to similar compounds, like BPF and BPS. And so, now our diet contains everything from BPA to BPZ. So now, the majority of us have these new chemicals in our bodies, as well. Are they any safer?

Well, based on the similarities of their chemical structures, they are all predicted to affect testosterone production and estrogen-receptor activity. But, only recently were they put to the test.

We’ve known BPA significantly suppresses testosterone production. And now, we know so does BPS and BPF—”the first report describing…adverse effects on a physiologic function in humans…” Well, kinda. These were experiments performed on the testicles of aborted human fetuses. But, bottom line, BPS and BPF seemed to have similar “antiandrogenic”—meaning anti-male hormone—effects to BPA.

So, when you’re assured that, “Don’t worry, your sales slip is ‘BPA-free,’” it may be just BPS instead. And, BPS receipts “may contain up to 40% more” BPS than it would have had BPA. So, BPA-free could be even worse! In fact, all BPA-replacement products tested to date released chemicals “having reliably detectable [estrogenic activity].”

And, this includes Tritan™, which is specifically marketed as being estrogen-activity free. But, drip an extract on human breast cancer cells in a petri dish, and you can accelerate their growth—an effect that’s abolished by an estrogen blocker, as you can see in the red lines. Now, this was after exposing them to simulated sunlight. Only one out of three Tritan products showed estrogen activity in an unstressed state—not 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 [all these] 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 3 or 7, and opt for fresh and frozen food, over canned goods—especially tuna and condensed soups.

Canned fruit consumption didn’t seem to matter, but weekly canned vegetable consumption was associated with increased BPA exposure. If you do use plastics, don’t microwave them, don’t put them in the dishwasher, don’t leave them in the sun or a hot car, or don’t use once scratched. But, using glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers are probably best.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video credit: Daniel Black.

Image credit: Storyblocks. Image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

For more on BPA, check out my videos:

Unfortunately, BPA isn’t the only plastics chemical that may have adverse health effects. See also Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates and What Diet Best Lowers Phthalate Exposure?.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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