BPA (bisphenol-A) is a potentially toxic estrogen-mimicking compound used in plastic production that has been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, and other maladies. It's dangerous enough that it has been banned in baby bottles in Europe, Canada, and even China--but not in the U.S. And it turns out that it's almost entirely unavoidable. It's in water bottles, store receipts, soup cans, and plastic-packaged foods, and many more products we encounter on a daily basis, according to a study from the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute. The study, Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention, suggests that the best solution is subsisting on a fresh-food diet, which could cut down on BPA exposure by at least 60%. Here's what you need to do in your daily life to mimic the study's results--and how much of a hassle it may be.
- Drink tap water or rely on BPA-free stainless steel water bottles (from companies like Nalgene or Sigg) instead of slugging down bottled water. Difficulty Rating: Easy
- Instead of eating microwavable meals that come out of plastic containers, eat only freshly-prepared, organic foods. Difficulty Rating: Moderate (or hard, depending on where you live, the size of your bank account, and how lazy you are).
- Instead of using plastic utensils, rely on the longer-lasting variety. Difficulty Rating: Easy
- To be safe, avoid all canned foods and replace with non-canned variations (replace canned soup with soup in a carton, for example) unless cans denote that they have a BPA-free lining. If that's not possible, avoid these specific canned foods, which are known to be high in BPA: coconut milk, soup, meat, vegetables, meals, juice, fish, beans, meal-replacement drinks, and fruit (yes, we realize that encompasses most canned foods). Take special care to avoid foods that are acidic, salty, or fatty. Difficulty Rating: Hard
- Steer clear of plastic storage containers for leftover food. Instead, use glass containers along with BPA-free plastic lids. The food should not touch the lids. Difficulty Rating: Easy
- Instead of using a plastic coffee-maker or going out for coffee, use a French press or ceramic drip. Difficulty Rating: Moderate (if you like to drink your coffee during the workday)
Even if you follow all of these steps, BPA will inevitably linger in your body; traces of it are found in extremely unlikely places, such as whole eggs and milk (due to pre-market processing). But many of these suggestions will lead to a healthier lifestyle, regardless--there's little downside to eating fresh food, avoiding bottled water, and cutting back on impulse coffee purchases. There's no harm in trying, and certainly no harm in reducing the poisonous toxins in your body. Unless you're into that sort of thing.