This two-part article was written with the aim of providing a much-needed perspective on the increasing worldwide epidemics of diabetes, liver disease and obesity.
Unless you’ve just arrived on this planet, you’ll be aware of the increasing incidence of obesity in society. Main causative factors put forward in the mainstream media are overeating and lack of exercise. Whilst that may sound like logical thinking, it distracts and diverts blame onto allegedly greedy and sedentary people and away from the real culprits. It also distracts from the extent of the problem, of which obesity is often, but not always, one highly visual symptom.
Who or what then are the real culprits? Two factors that, if listed with other potentials, would rank first and second are Bisphenols and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
Of the all Bisphenols, Bisphenol-A (BPA)is the one being discussed here. BPA is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the world. BPA is an industrial chemical used to make clear, rigid, shatter-resistant plastic used in food and drink containers like the epoxy coatings lining most food and beverage cans (aluminum and steel). Other BPA sources include PVC piping, plastic dinnerware, compact disks, mobile phone and computer casings, toys, dental sealants, and medical devices. It’s found in all currency throughout the world as well as cash register receipts issued on thermal paper, pizza boxes, conventional napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper. It can also be found in wines fermented in plastic vats. .
A 2011 study that showed that 90% of the 73 popular canned foods in the US tested contained BPA, (18 out of 20 top-selling canned food products in the UK). A study in the same year conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies as when they ate fresh soup daily.
Canada’s national health regulatory agency, Health Canada turned up detectable levels of the hormone-disrupting compound in 96 percent of canned soft drinks. The agency tested 72 different undisclosed brands of energy drinks, diet and non-diet soda, fruit-flavored beverages and other soft drinks and found that all but three tested positive for BPA. The 72 brands tested represent 84 percent of all soft drinks sold in Canada.
The European Food Safety Authority states that at least 15 percent of BPA exposure could be coming from things other than canned foods, including thermal paper.
The incidence of BPA in the environment is so widespread that it is virtually impossible to avoid daily contact in some form. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 90% of people in the US are chronically exposed to BPA at over 3000 times the daily level that the FDA reports. According to research by the Environmental Working Group, 9 out of 10 infants tested had BPA in their blood at birth. It having also been detected in amniotic fluid and placentas means fetuses are exposed before birth.
The researchers also found that BPA in concentrations permitted by US and European health authorities is harmful to fetuses, once again showing us that government toxicity levels allow us to be harmed. They found that BPA reduces the number of cells, which develop into ova, and therefore negatively affects a woman’s fertility and doubles the risk of chromosome damage during the cell division process.
“According to our results, BPA does not directly affect the fertility of pregnant women, but that of their daughters and granddaughters. It is a multigenerational effect,” explains Barcelona professor Montserrat Garcia Caldes and the director of research.
Drinking water from plastic bottles made with (BPA) increases urinary levels of the chemical by nearly 70 percent, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who also reported that BPA has appeared in the urine of over 90% tested.
To make things worse, if the bottles or cans have been sitting on the shelf for months, the toxic levels of BPA are higher. Also, if the plastic gets heated up, like in a car or in transit in hot countries where more bottled water is often consumed, more toxins are released into the drink. Plus, canned goods are sterilised at up to 265F/130C, so the level of BPA released in those foods is massively increased.
BPA was originally developed in the 1930’s as a synthetic version of the female hormone estrogen. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it is a chemical that interferes with the hormone system. Women are not the only one who suffer from its endocrine-disrupting action, though. A 2011 study of male factory workers suggests a correlation between exposure to BPA and erectile dysfunction, while an experimental study in rats showed a reduction in serum testosterone following BPA exposure.
Exposure to even a low BPA dose over time has been associated with a wide range of negative health effects including, but not limited to, abnormal male reproductive development, early sexual maturation in females, neurobehavioral problems, an increase in type 2 diabetes and obesity, endocrine disruption, autism spectrum disorders and hormonally mediated cancers such as breast cancer.
Wondering why kids are more hyperactive these days and the doctors suggest prescribing ADHD pharmaceuticals? BPA mimics estrogenic activity and enhances mesolimbic dopamine activity, which results in hyperactivity and attention deficits.
The endocrine-disrupting, estrogen-mimicking substance has been named ‘obesogenic’ by some researchers, meaning it can contribute to obesity. Studies in the lab find that BPA has the ability to accelerate fat-cell differentiation, disrupt pancreatic functioning, and cause insulin resistance, leading to obesity problems. A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found adults with the highest level of BPA were 50 percent more likely to be fatter, with a body mass index in the overweight or obese category. Study participants with high BPA levels were also 28 percent more likely to harbor dangerous abdominal fat. BPA expert Laura N. Vandenberg, PhD, postdoctoral fellow of regenerative and developmental biology at Tufts University, observed that “This human study, together with the previous studies that show relationships between BPA exposures and obesity or other metabolic endpoints, are concerning because they suggest that there are no ‘safe’ populations—even adults may be affected by low level exposures to this chemical,”
The researchers called BPA a potential new environmental “obesogen,” a chemical compound that can disrupt the normal development and balance of fat metabolism and lead to obesity. They suggested that “worldwide exposure to BPA in the human population may be contributing to the worldwide obesity epidemic.” They further stated that ‘Our findings suggest that developmental exposure to environmentally relevant levels of BPA during gestation and lactation induces mammary gland neoplasms in the absence of any additional carcinogenic treatment,” conclude the researchers. “Thus, BPA may act as a complete mammary gland carcinogen.”
Other theories arising from the study were that BPA could both accelerate girls’ pubertal development and weight gain during their pre-puberty years. Also noted that exposure to BPA suppresses the release of adiponectin, a hormone that increases insulin sensitivity, which could lead to insulin resistance and increased susceptibility to obesity and metabolic syndromes.
Despite having been shown in hundreds of published studies over the last decade to cause serious conditions including, but not limited to those mentioned above, most national regulatory bodies (US/UK/EU etc) continue to downplay and/or contradict the research, and minimise the effect of BPA . When one looks at the historic record of these bodies, the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) being a classic example and certain individuals within them, it becomes obvious that they are not working in the public’s best interest. It is now clear to most independent observers that the FDA, for instance, is operating a criminal protection racket that seeks to multiply the profits of drug companies and chemical companies while betraying the health and safety of the people it is supposed to be protecting. FDA decision boards are routinely stacked with “experts” who are on the take from the corporations impacted by their decisions.
A poorly designed study with one obvious goal — to cover up the health effects of exposure to BPA is currently circulating the mainstream media with corresponding claims that BPA is completely safe for humans at current exposure levels, despite copious contradicting science. But a University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA) assistant professor and several others have since come out publicly to decry this flawed study, the construct of which ignores the basic confines of legitimate science.
Also missing from the FDA’s assessment was any consideration of BPA’s affects on human hormones, mainly its ability to activate estrogen receptors in the brain. Previous studies have confirmed that even low-dose exposure to BPA can alter hormone levels, especially over long periods of time — the new FDA study on BPA, it should be noted, only evaluated the effects of BPA on rats for 90 days, which is far too short a duration to make any reasonable or logical conclusions about its safety.
“Other recent animal studies conducted at universities have linked low-dose BPA exposure to an array of health impacts, including some of the effects that the new study did not find,” writes Bienkowski for EHN. “These other experiments found mammary gland abnormalities, altered male and female sexual development, changes in metabolism, insulin and glucose, impaired learning and memory, stress and obesity.”
Late last year, hundreds of independent scientists, who have no financial ties to chemical industries, were cheering the resignation of EU Commission panel member Wolfgang Dekant. Dekant is a blatant sellout for the chemical industry, an all-out advocate for endocrine disruptors like BPA, pesticides and phthalates. Earlier in 2013, Dekant teamed up with seventeen other sellout scientists to sign an editorial that mocked new EU evidence of endocrine disrupters in consumer products. Published in fourteen journals, Dekant’s scathing editorial deemed the new EU endocrine disruptor regulations as “scientifically unfounded, defying common sense and well established science risk assessment principles.”
The first studies proving the dangers of BPA forced manufacturers to launch a new generation of plastics. The label “BPA-free” has now become a household name and something many consumers seek out, and will pay more for, to ensure safety.
Unfortunately, now, the peace of mind that this BPA-free labeling brought is being questioned. A new study suggests that the “BPA-free” label doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a product is harmless.
In a recent study in which scientists conducted lab tests on multiple top-brand baby and toddler bottles, it was found that many leached chemicals that reacted like the hormone estrogen, even though most were BPA-free. According to this same research, some of those products that were tested actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.
An even bigger issue than BPA is its replacement, BPS, a chemical that was found in a recent study to have a significantly higher uptake in skin compared to BPA. Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the first ever study on BPS’ toxicity verified not only that the chemical is widely used, even in BPA-free products, but that it is also significantly more toxic because of its incredible absorption rate.
“Compared with when BPA was more widely used, people may now be absorbing 19 times more BPS through their skin, and people who handle thermal cash-register paper in their jobs may be absorbing even more BPS,” says a recent U.S. News and World Report piece on BPS, quoting the words of a research scientist at the New York State Department of Health who led a study on BPS.
The above should make it clear that, as with anything to do with our health, we need to develop ways of informing and looking after ourselves. In the case of BPA, reducing our exposure should be the first step. Food and drink packaging is our number one source of BPA exposure. (BPA) is mainly found in polycarbonate plastic, which is labeled with the number 7.
It cannot be stressed enough: Consume a fresh food diet and avoid packaged foods as much as possible.
The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute conducted a study which showed a dramatic drop in BPA levels when certain guidelines were followed. During the week-long investigation, families were given freshly prepared organic meals which did not come in contact with any form of BPA. After three days, the participants BPA levels dropped an average of 60 percent with some as high as 75 percent.
To reduce exposure, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families offers the following suggestions:
Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.
Move foods to ceramic or glass food containers.
Consider a French press for coffee – home coffee makers may have polycarbonate-based water tanks and phthalate-based tubing.
Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.
Limit canned food consumption.
Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible.
Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).
Also, avoid plastic cookware and utensils.
As far as avoiding contamination through non-food vectors:
Say no to receipts when possible
Keep receipts in an envelope.
Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
Wash your hands before preparing and eating food after handling receipts.
Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues will contaminate recycled paper.
Which goes someway to reducing exposure, but how can we remove BPA from our bodies?
* Bifidobacterium 3
* Bifidobacterium Breve
* Lactobacillus casei
* Bacillus pumilus
These have been discovered or confirmed by at least one in vitro (lab glass) study or in vivo (animal/human) study. A few have been covered by more than one study. Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei were found to extract BPA from the blood of mammals and were excreted out through the bowels.
The most commonly tested items are specific probiotic strains, such as the first four listed, or probiotics in general and fermented foods. So obviously whatever supplies probiotics in high numbers is critical. If you buy probiotic supplements, you can see which bacteria strains are available on the labels.
There are ways to create fermented foods and milk kefir (raw milk is ideal) or water kefir (with purified water). You’ll have to search the internet for those sources. Or if you are in or near a network that cooperates with providing kefir starter grains, look into that. It’s the least expensive route for consuming lots of probiotics.
Other fermented foods like kimchi, natural sauerkraut.
Beneficial bacteria strengthen the gut and break down chemicals like BPA so they can be cleared out. As an added bonus, they also break down pesticides, another major endocrine-disruptor!
Black tea is found to reduce BPA toxicity. Drink loose leaf – black tea has many, many other health benefits besides reducing BPA.
Sweat it out
When researchers started testing different ways that BPA bioaccumulates in the body, they discovered that BPA was detected in sweat and thought that method should be considered in newer research projects as a way to track accumulation, like when urine is tested.
They found that: “Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of BPA.” Many wellness centers now have steamless saunas to help with sweat detox.
This is a flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, leaves, tea and whole grains. Like black tea, it ameliorates toxicity from BPA. It is also available in supplement form. It should probably come as no surprise that quercetin is also great for allergies!
A fermented brew made using a specific culture, called by some a mushroom that is in fact a combination of fungus, yeast and algae. Detoxification agent par excellence. Alsosupports healthy liver functioning through the provision of gluconic and glucuronic acids and folic acid. Has applications in numerous conditions (see link below)
The agent that gives turmeric its bright yellow color contains a powerful phytochemical component known as curcumin. Curcumin stimulates production of bile by the gallbladder. The liver uses bile to eliminate toxins; bile also rejuvenates liver cells that breakdown harmful compounds and metabolise fat. It is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.
Foods like beets and cabbage also contain glutathione that breaks down and removes plastics in our bodies, so it’s a good idea to consume them regularly. Better yet, juice them so that you can consume more.
Knowledge Is Power. Your Ignorance Is Their Bliss
References (These link to source articles and to two of the best public access health information databases)