You already know that there’s all sorts of dangerous, disgusting stuff like pesticides, carcinogenic additives, chemical dyes and fillers made from unappetizing ingredients such as wood in packaged and processed foods... but what you might not realize is that the bags, boxes and plastic containers those foods come in may be even worse for your health. New research has found that by simply getting rid of these packages as quickly as you can, you’ll be bringing yourself and your family astonishing and practically immediate health benefits.
You’re no doubt aware of the dangers linked to use of the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), found in polycarbonate plastic food containers, including but not limited to bottles and takeout food containers. There’s been much written on the dangers of using BPA in packaging including breast and prostate cancer and early puberty. However, now that we’ve all been exposed to it for years, are we doomed? The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute (both San Francisco-based organizations focused on environmental causes of breast cancer) conducted a study to measure how dangerous these packages are, specifically zeroing in on how quickly and meaningfully the BPA levels in the body decline when people stop eating or drinking foods packaged in BPA containers.
As part of their study, the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute enrolled five families, each consisting of two parents and two children, who had regularly consumed prepackaged, processed foods and drinks in cans, frozen dinners, bottled water and foods designed to be microwaved in their own containers. Then, for three days, these families were presented with fresh, organic food cooked by the research team and stored only in glass or stainless steel containers. To measure the direct and immediate impact of the change, researchers collected urine samples from all participants before, during and after the diet.
A previous University of Missouri study shows that the exposure to the controversial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) through diet has been underestimated by previous lab tests. In the study, researchers compared BPA concentrations in mice that were given a steady diet supplemented with BPA throughout the day, compared to the more common lab method of single exposure, and found an increased absorption and accumulation of BPA in the blood of mice.
After just three days, everyone’s BPA level fell, with an average drop of two-thirds. BPA has a half-life of six hours in your body, notes Connie Engel, PhD, program coordinator at The Breast Cancer Fund. This means that six hours following exposure, half of what you’ve taken in is eliminated. When the families resumed their normal diets, their BPA levels returned to pre-intervention levels by the next urine sample.
These findings were published in March in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
To Get Healthier Right Now
This study demonstrates that we all can quickly lower our own BPA levels by making basic changes in what we eat and drink...
- Buy whole foods -- and carry them home in paper bags.
- Do not microwave in plastic -- even if it is labeled "microwave-safe"! Heat raises BPA levels in plastic, upping the health hazards. Instead, microwave food in glass or ceramic containers.
- Consider switching to a French press coffeemaker. Typical coffeemakers may contain traces of BPA and other toxins in the bin that holds the coffee filter and coffee. These grow more concentrated when heated.
- Kick the cans. Avoid canned foods except those that are in BPA-free cans, such as from Eden Foods, Vital Choice, Oregon’s Choice and Trident Seafoods.
- Watch out for the kids. Developing children are at even greater risk for harm from BPA. Use glass baby bottles or BPA-free plastic bottles. For older children, get stainless steel lunch boxes instead of plastic.
Connie Engel, PhD, is program coordinator, Breast Cancer Fund, San Francisco.