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I have recently started to work on a new book on endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDC (also known as xenoestrogens). These chemicals have been implicated in the development of adenomyosis, but they have also been implicated in other reproductive disorders and cancers. I wanted to publish an in-depth review of these dangerous chemicals, but little did I know that I would be embarking on a huge project that is also quite disturbing.
I like to use PubMed through the NIH to get reliable information from actual clinical studies. The first study I read was “Mixtures of xenoestrogens disrupt estradiol-induced non-genomic signaling and downstream functions in pituitary cells” by Rene Viñas and Cheryl S. Watson at the University of Texas.¹
The first interesting thing I noted is that this group looked at the effect of mixtures of xenoestrogens, not just the effect of one xenoestrogen, on rat cells. This is particularly important since we are not exposed to one xenoestrogen at a time. In fact, we are exposed to hundreds of these dangerous chemicals each day. We are bombarded with them the minute we walk out our front door. This study showed that the cells responded differently when exposed to multiple xenoestrogens at the same time as opposed to a single xenoestrogen.
Although that fact is enlightening, the most disturbing thing I learned from this article is about bisphenol A, or BPA. This xenoestrogen is used to make plastics and epoxy resins, and it can be found in a slew of consumer products. Examples include water bottles, thermal paper (such as sales receipts, cinema tickets, airline tickets), CD’s, and DVDs. It is also used extensively to line the inside of food and beverage cans. It is one of the highest volume chemicals made in the world today.
In the last ten years or so, the safety of BPA has come into question. Studies have shown that it is an endocrine-disruptor. In particular, it has been shown to interfere with estrogen receptors. Because of this concern, years of discussion ensued in governmental agencies worldwide leading to a ban of BPA use in the production of baby bottles and other products in children under the age of three. Today, some of these products are listed as “BPA-free”.
However, this study from the University of Texas pointed out that many “BPA-free” products now contain BPS, or bisphenol S. BPS is now being used as a substitute for BPA. Shockingly, this study shows that BPS is also an endocrine disruptor as it also interferes with estrogen receptors!! So, according to this study, “BPA-free” is NOT safe. As I continued to do my research, I noticed that a 2011 study stated “Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled, independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source, leached chemicals having reliably-detectable EA [endocrine activity], including those advertised as BPA-free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA [endocrine activity] that BPA-containing products.” ²
I was stunned! Next, I read a very long and excellent article on Wikipedia about Bisphenol A. I came to the conclusion that this chemical hasn’t been banned altogether because of lobbyists/politics. Here are some interesting (and infuriating) facts:
- The FDA considers BPA to be “safe at the current levels occurring in foods.” They base this statement on two studies funded by the chemical companies even though there are hundreds of other studies out there that show this chemical to be an endocrine disruptor.
- The FDA had previously stated that the benefits of good nutrition outweigh the risks of BPA exposure when it comes to infant formulas/food. Since that time, BPA has been banned in baby bottles in the U.S.
- In 2011, the governor of Maine, Paul LePage, actually made the following statement when discussing the issue of bisphenol A: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.” In April of that year, the Maine legislature passed a bill that banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and some reusable food containers. Governor LePage refused to sign it.
- In 2009, the EPA planned on labeling BPA as a “chemical of concern; however, after lobbyists for the chemical company met with members of the administration, this didn’t happen.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will get into much more detail in my upcoming book, but I felt the need to write a short blog on this topic now as to alert the general public about safety issues regarding BPA and so-called “BPA-free” products. After reading these articles, I have learned that virtually no plastic product is safe, regardless of what the government tells you.
The best advice I can give is to get away from processed food and go as fresh as possible. Organic is best. Try to stay away from canned foods as much as possible. It is important to note that we cannot avoid all xenoestrogens, but it is vitally important to reduce exposure as much as possible. This is particularly important for women who already suffer from estrogen-dependent diseases such as adenomyosis, endometriosis, and reproductive cancers.
Want more information on adenomyosis, an overview of endocrine-disrupting hormones, and tips to reduce your exposure? Check out my book, Adenomyosis: A Significantly Neglected and Misunderstood Uterine Disorder. Available on Amazon (Kindle or paperback).
¹Viñas, R. & Watson, C. (2013). Mixtures of xenoestrogens disrupt estradiol-induced non-genomic signaling and downstream functions in pituitary cells. Environmental Health Perspective. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-12-26
²Walsh, B. (2011). “Study: Even ‘BPA-free’ plastics leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals”. Time. Retrieved 14 September 2016.