A few years back, I ditched all my old plastic water bottles in favor of non-plastic alternatives. I now have an army of glass and stainless steel water bottles and I keep one with me almost constantly. I do my best to limit my use of plastic containers for food and beverage storage, but I sometimes wonder if I am doing a good enough job. Is the plastic container I am reusing from a recent takeout meal safe? Should I finally stop using that old plastic cereal bowl that is one of my favorites?
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical that is found in plastics, cans, cash register receipts, and more. The BPA-free movement was strong and at the forefront of the news a few years ago; most of us are well aware that BPA exposure is unhealthy, and we know that we should do our best to avoid it. And although the talk of BPA may have subsided somewhat in recent years, the risks of BPA have not. Research continues to find more and more BPA dangers, which should serve as a reminder to us to live as completely BPA-free as possible.
BPA is probably most well known for it’s probable link to things like cancer, obesity, and reproductive harm. This is because it is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it affects the hormonal functioning in our body (read more about endocrine disruptors). BPA is also linked to things like behavioral problems in children. Now, recent research is linking it to high blood pressure, as well.
High levels of BPA exposure had been previously associated with cardiovascular disease. One reason for this is likely that BPA can lead to elevated blood pressure. A study in 2012 in the Journal of Environmental Public Health found an association between high levels of BPA in the urine of adults in the United States and hypertension.
Just this past December, the journal Hypertension published an important study on the acute effects of BPA exposure on blood pressure. The study recruited volunteers to drink two servings of soy milk out of either two glass containers (BPA-free), two cans containing BPA, or one of each. Two hours after drinking the milk, urine samples were tested for BPA levels. BPA concentration in the urine was significantly higher for those drinking out of the cans. Those people who drank out of two cans showed an increase in blood pressure by 4.5 mmHg compared to those drinking out of only glass. A large increase in blood pressure such as this is significant; elevated blood pressure over the long-term can increase your risk of heart disease.
(In addition to cutting out BPA, you can eat certain foods to lower blood pressure. Download the free report The Best DIY High Blood Pressure Diet: The Top 8 Foods to Lower Blood Pressure to learn more.)
Research like this reminds us how essential it is to avoid BPA dangers altogether. Reducing your use of plastics is a good start, but there is more you can do to make sure you aren’t getting any of this nasty chemical in your life. Check out this list of 5 Alarming Sources of BPA Exposure for more tips on avoiding BPA exposure. And keep in mind that BPA-free plastics are not always a great alternative; plastics can still be full of other endocrine disruptors, even if they don’t contain BPA. For now, your best bet is to stick to glass or stainless steel storage containers.
(Top) Photo by Fotolia/Les Cunliffe
Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.
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