19 Apr The Dangers Of BPA Plastic And Their Link To Obesity
Obesity: Beyond Notions
Despite efforts expended at curtailing obesity by concerned actors (individuals, health institutions and the government), it is quite worrisome that the menace to healthy living (obesity) has proven to be unimpeded. Thus, there has been a rapid increase in the rate of those suffering from the ailment (1) especially in developing countries.
Most individuals share the notion that obesity – which is a health anomaly stemming from excessive accumulation or storage of body fat in the body, is caused by overfeeding, aging or genetic imprints. While this cannot be said to be untrue, there exists other factors too which include; lack of exercises, stress, dysbiosis and of course, endocrine disruptors (the foci of this discourse).
Interestingly, would you be shocked or surprised to learn that the risk of obesity can be intensified by plastics intended as food packages or containers? Well, let me point out to you that excessive environmental exposures to chemical such as BPA largely used in the production of these plastic containers can heighten the risk of obesity.
Before we take a delve into the discourse proper, a succinct understanding of the concept 'BPA'is deemed necessary to facilitate a concrete grasp of the contention in focus.
WHAT IS BPA?
BPA is an acronym for ‘Bisphenol A’ which is a synthetic organic compound used largely in the production of plastic containers (2). The presence of BPA in plastics makes such plastics tough and clear. It also reduces to the barest minimum the incidence of food spoilage and corrosion (3). This attest to why such plastics and related containers have been largely used for packaging consumer products such as water, beverage and food.
BPA is not only limited to food packages. Owing to its versatility, it has been used in the production of toys, compact disk, Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes (PVC), sealants. Even, the chemical is present in monetary currency (4) as well as receipts and cash register.
While BPA has been identified as a conduit pipe through which obesity can be aggravated, it does not stop there. Studies have confirmed that the chemical intensifies and exacerbates other ailments (5) as seen in the succeeding subheading.
THE DANGERS OF BPA
The following are the earmarked dangers attached to exposure to BPA;
- Hormone disruption: this is the core area of concern for this discourse. Experts through experimental procedures have reveal that the chemical acts as hormones in the body such that, it disrupts the normal hormonal development in babies and children, hence, culminating into obesity.
- Cancer development: some studies carried out especially on animals have shown that excessive exposure to BPA impairs on the immune system and thus, heightens the risk of becoming cancerous.
- Heart diseases: some other studies have pointed out that BPA can also trigger heart diseases and problems.
- Diabetes: BPA also increases the risk of contracting chronic diabetes.
What's the interplay between BPA and Obesity?
Who would ever imagine that the chemical composition in the production of water bottles, baby sip cups, plastic containers and metal beverage can intensify the risk of becoming obese? As absurd as it sounds, it's conk reality!
Several research studies (6) have affirmed the interplay between BPA and obesity (7). One of such studies that attest to the aforementioned claim is that of the University of Iowa, United States, published in the “Lancet Planetary Health Journal “(8).
The research spearheaded by Dr. Wei Bao studied over ten thousand (10000) participants out of which one thousand, five hundred and twenty one (1521) subjects were randomly selected. The experimental study confirmed the link between BPA and obesity. The concentration of BPA in urinary samples of selected subjects was matched with their Body Mass Index (BMI).
At this juncture, it must be emphasized that BPA is composed of chemicals which can act as endocrine disruptors or hormonal disruptors in the body. Thus, when absorbed into the body, it impairs on the normal processes of hormone development and lipid metabolism in the body. When this occur, the chances of becoming obese is high.
BPA finds its way into the body by leaching into food substances via the plastic or metal food packages or container used to package it. This also includes lids and metal linings of cans.
Can BPA exposure be avoided?
While one cannot shy away from the fact that BPA cannot be totally eliminated from one’s lives, it becomes pertinent to begin to look into ways of minimizing one’s exposure to it. The following tip can help one reduce the risk of becoming vulnerable to obesity and other BPA related diseases;
- Avoid packaged food substances unless it is indicated on the pack that such is BPA free
- Switch your preference to food packaged in glass containers
- Stop microwaving food substances in plastic or rubber containers
- Only use baby sip bottles, cups, plates and containers that are BPA free. Such containers marked as Polycarbonate (PC) and #7 (recycle) must be totally avoided
- Opt for digital receipts and invoices from stores instead of collecting printed copies.
In My Practice
In our practice, we encourage our patients to buy a glass container (or BPA free bottles) to refill and drink their water, and whenever possible, refrain from drinking or eating foods that come in plastic containers or cans. It is truly a problem, as the cost of plastic containers is cheap, and hence many products we use in our daily life are made of plastic. As you may know, a plastic bottle may take up to 1000 years to decompose, so most of the time they merely break down into smaller particles and are a major environmental catastrophe, affecting the health of our planet.
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