Next time you reach for a drink of your bottled water, think again. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical that leeches on certain plastics, and it considered to be a major cause of obesity in our society today. So what is BPA and does it really cause obesity? What other risks does it pose? By reading this short guide, you’ll discover the answers to these important questions.
What Is BPA?
BPA was originally synthesized as a chemical compound similar to estrogen, but was later used to help produce plastics and resins. It produces a light weight, clear plastic that holds up under wear and tear of everyday life. However, when these plastics are heated or exposed to a change in acidity, BPA leeches off the plastic into whatever substances are being held inside.
What Are Sources of BPA?
- Baby bottles
- Food and drink containers
- Dental fillings
- Coffee makers
- Resins lining food and beverage containers
- Additive for a variety of products
BPA is such an integrated part of everyday life, most people are exposed to it every day!
How Does It Affect Obesity?
In a study with pregnant mice, children of the mothers who were given only 1/10th of the BPA usually found in humans grew up to be abnormally large. Scientists have discovered that BPA combined with insulin inhibits a protein responsible for such processes in the body, like increasing fatty oxidation and glucose metabolism and reducing glucose output and insulin resistance. All of these processes are designed to fight a condition known as metabolic syndrome, of which obesity is a part.
In addition, BPA can cause a hormone changes in children in the womb of mothers exposed to BPA that can lead to a lifetime of predisposition towards obesity. BPA changes the hormone receptors that are responsible for fat development. This causes the body to increase fat cell production. Not only that, but BPA changes the hormonal feedback loop to increase signals to the body to feed the fat cells, causing an increased accumulation of fat. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of obesity over the course of your life.
What Other Risks Does BPA Pose?
- An increasing number of occurrences of breast and prostate cancer
- Premature puberty in children
- Neurological problems in infants
- Heart disease
- Permanent damage to fetuses in pregnant women
- Miscarriage and fertility problems in women
So Why Is It Still in Use?
BPA is still found useful by the plastic industry, and they have strongly lobbied to keep it in use. The plastic industry has sponsored several studies showing that BPA is safe. However, these studies tend to show the effects of a high dosage of BPA, which has the unusual property that it causes the most damage only in small doses. Unfortunately, due to the conflicting studies, the FDA considers BPA to be safe for food contact.
However, the use of BPA is slowly being controlled. In Canada, it is considered to be toxic and no longer used in manufacturing. As research continues on the effects of BPA, debates will continue as to the safety of this substance. However, until the debate is settled, it would be wise to avoid products made with this substance to avoid possible health complications.