By now, the science is pretty played out: Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, poses a clear threat to your health. The cash-register receipt, plastic, and canned-food-lining chemical plays tricks on your hormonal system, acting like an estrogen imposter and promoting problems like breast and prostate cancers, heart trouble, type 2 diabetes, autism, asthma, infertility, and even obesity. The new finding? BPA replacements used in some "BPA-free" products may not be any better.
New research from University of Texas scientists found a newer chemical used to replace BPA called bisphenol S, or BPS, acts similarly to hormone-disrupting BPA. Appearing online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the new animal study finds BPS behaves very similarly to BPA, a chemical that throws off the body's natural signaling of estrogen, which is a bodily function both men and women need to be healthy.
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Throwing our bodies' hormonal rhythms into chaos could mess with cell growth, healthy hormone release, and neurotransmitter health, as shown in previous BPA research examining exposure to very low levels—ones we likely encounter throughout the day.
A Failed System
This new study is the latest in a long line of research that suggests U.S. chemical policy is woefully inadequate when it comes to protecting human health. Like BPA, BPS was introduced into consumer products before scientists had adequately tested its safety, a costly mistake, considering all of the serious health problems scientists are now associating with hormone-disrupting chemicals.
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"We need to change the way we introduce these chemicals into consumer products. We need to test them first before they're put into a product that goes into the marketplace—that's just logical," says study author Cheryl Watson PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
How to Get on a Truly BPA-Free Path
Be skeptical of plastic. While No. 7 plastics are most likely to contain BPA or BPS, the truth is hormone-disrupting chemicals may be in all different types of plastic formulations. Use glass, ceramic, or food-grade metal containers for food and drinks. And live by this golden rule: Never heat plastic. "Heat will always make these things leach out more," Watson explains. Do your best to keep all plastics out of the microwave and the dishwasher. And avoid keeping plastic water bottles in hot cars.
Avoid trivial receipts. How's this for something you don't want to get your hands on? Scientists previously found that BPA coated on thermal cash-register receipts readily seeps through your skin. To avoid this unnecessary exposure to the chemical, say "No receipt, please" when ordering trivial items like a morning coffee.
Can the cans. Cut your exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals by avoiding canned foods. Instead, choose fresh or frozen options to avoid BPA or similar chemicals.