Uh, Not Really. . .
Many consumers have taken steps to curb their use of products containing the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA. Thanks to this newsletter and other voices, folks are learning that BPA poses health risks that far outweigh its benefits. This toxic substance is commonly used in all things plastic including baby bottles, plastic food storage containers and nearly all drink containers — soda, water, juice, you name it.
But if you’ve switched to “BPA-free” products, watch out! It turns out the plastic industry has merely substituted another dangerous chemical. Keep reading and I’ll explain. . .
Long-term exposure to BPA has been linked to a number of serious health concerns, including:
Impaired learning and memory
Low sperm count
BPA in your body becomes a type of fake estrogen that can lead to hormonal imbalances. For additional details, see our reports in Issue #17 and Issue #196. Canada has totally banned BPA — that should give you a hint of how serious this is.
With the discovery of the long-term health-damaging effects of BPA exposure, many manufacturers responded to public concerns by removing the chemical from their products.
But this was nothing more than a magician’s sleight of hand!
What they didn’t tell us about items sporting the “BPA free” label is that they now contain BPA’s ugly cousin bisphenol S (BPS)—a chemical that may be even MORE toxic and dangerous to your health!
Kurunthachalam Kannan, a research scientist at the New York State Department of Health in Albany, led a team investigating the prevalence of BPS in the environment.
The investigators were surprised to find that your skin appears to absorb up to 19 times more BPS than its predecessor BPA.
And here’s one reason why your likelihood of coming in contact with the chemical is extremely high:
BPS is used on most of the paper receipts and paper
currency you handle for every purchase you make!
What does ‘most’ mean? Well Kannan’s research team tested 16 types of paper from the U.S., Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
They found a whopping 87 percent of paper currency and 52 percent of recycled paper contained BPS.
What’s more, Kannan’s group also found that 81 percent of 315 urine samples taken from men and women in the United States and seven Asian countries contained BPS. Japan had the highest average concentrations followed by the U.S.
The hidden dangers of a hormone imbalance
Have you ever noticed that some middle aged men seem to carry a spare tire around their middle? And that some even have ‘man boobs’ where their chest muscles used to be?
Chalk it up to estrogen overload!
As men get older, they produce less testosterone, which can lead to a buildup of estrogen. If you’re a man with rising estrogen levels—be aware that it can increase your risk of experiencing prostate problems, heart trouble and other serious health concerns.
In women, excess estrogen causes fluid retention… hot flashes… night sweats… increased blood fat levels… and mood swings…
Many women also complain about dry skin and dry eyes—and even an uncomfortable vaginal dryness that can make sexual relations painful.
In 2002, government scientists abruptly ended a large study of a type of a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that made use of estrogen and progestin.
The investigators determined that this treatment, prescribed to relieve the symptoms of menopause, significantly increased the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Unfortunately, this news came some 50 years after countless HRT prescriptions had been doled out to unsuspecting women. Thousands of women promptly stopped hormone replace therapy — and the rate of breast cancer in the United States plunged!
In other words, this commonly prescribed medical treatment was responsible for thousands of cases of breast cancer. But this gets worse. The evidence strongly indicates the real problem was that mainstream doctors used estrogen from horses, not human estrogen. (The HRT drug was called Premarin, extracted from mares’ urine.)
HRT that uses human estrogen is called bioidentical hormone therapy. Knowledgeable authorities say this type of HRT is safe, although the medical establishment insists the use of horse estrogen had nothing to do with the link to breast cancer.
I bring it up because BPA and BPS chemically mess with the hormone levels in both men and women. The famous HRT scandal points up how even small deviations from natural human estrogen can have disastrous consequences.
Is there a BPS/cancer connection?
The research on health effects of BPS is still in its infant stages. But what scientists do know is that BPS has a similar chemical structure to BPA. This means that, like BPA, BPS is likely to be tied to abnormal cell growth leading to cancer.
In a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology, Chinese researchers compared levels of BPA in about 500 adults to the rates of the brain cancer meningioma.
They found that adults with higher levels of BPA in their urine had a greater likelihood of developing that form of cancer than did folks with lower levels. This was true even after the researchers considered other factors such as family history and whether the person had received hormone replacement therapy.
In another study, University of Cincinnati scientists exposed human breast cancer cells to low levels of BPA. The group was surprised to find that BPA encouraged the production of proteins that prevent cancer cells from being killed by chemotherapy drugs.
So according to study results, not only does BPA contribute to cancer formation—it also neutralizes one of mainstream medicines favored treatment options!
So what’s a consumer to do?
Well, clearly you can’t change the BPS levels in the products themselves. But you can minimize your exposure by opting for glass beverage and food containers versus plastic.
And you can avoid microwaving foods in plastic containers to avoid leaching the chemicals into your meal.
Also, try to wash your hands after handling receipts, money and other paper products that may be coated with BPS chemicals. As mentioned before, it appears these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin.
These simple steps could decrease your exposure to this dangerous copycat chemical that may prove to be a serious health threat.
Lee Euler, Publisher
Ewbank, D. 2008, October 8. Bisphenol A linked to chemotherapy resistance. University of Cincinnati press release available online at
Liao C, et al. Bisphenol S in urine from the United States and seven Asian countries: occurrence and human exposures. Environ Sci Technol 46(12):6860-6866 (2012);
Main, E. 2013. The new scary threat in canned soup. Rodale health website. Retrieved from
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (2013, January 22). BPA substitute could spell trouble: Experiments show bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from
Large Human Study Links Phthalates, BPA and Thyroid Hormone Levels
ScienceDaily (July 11, 2011) — A link between chemicals called phthalates and thyroid hormone levels was confirmed by the University of Michigan in the first large-scale and nationally representative study of phthalates and BPA in relation to thyroid function in humans.
The U-M School of Public Health study also reported suggestive findings consistent with a previously reported link between a chemical called bisphenol-A and thyroid hormone levels. BPA is best known for its use in certain plastic water bottles and in the linings of canned foods.
Researchers used publicly available data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to compare urine metabolites and serum thyroid measures from 1,346 adults and 329 adolescents. Generally speaking, greater concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites and BPA were associated with greater impacts on serum thyroid measures, said John Meeker, assistant professor at U-M SPH and lead study author.
Specifically, researchers found an inverse relationship between urinary markers of exposure and thyroid hormone levels, meaning as urinary metabolite concentrations increased, serum levels of certain thyroid hormone levels decreased.
Phthalates and BPA are chemical compounds that appear in solvents, plasticizers and common household products. These latest results were consistent with findings from previous smaller studies by Meeker and others that suggested the relationship.
The current study showed the strongest relationship between thyroid disruption and DEHP, a phthalate commonly used as a plasticizer. Research has shown that the primary exposure to DEHP is through diet. Urine samples in the highest 20 percent of exposure to DEHP were associated with as much as a 10 percent decrease in certain thyroid hormones compared to urine samples at the lowest 20 percent of exposure.
“This seems like a subtle difference,” Meeker said, “but if you think about the entire population being exposed at this level you’d see many more thyroid related effects in people.”
Researchers looked at another phthalate called DBP but overall, didn’t find a significant relationship between exposure and thyroid measures. DBP is also a plasticizer, and is also used in solvents and personal care products.
Thyroid hormones play an important role in many body functions, from reproduction to metabolism and energy balance.
While the study focused primarily on adults, these findings underscore the need for more research on adults, pregnant women, and children, Meeker said, because fetal and child development may be particularly vulnerable to disruptions in thyroid hormone levels associated with exposure to environmental chemicals.
Meeker pointed out that the study had limitations. Since urine and serum samples were collected at a single point in time, researchers couldn’t conclude a cause-and-effect relationship; it would be better to follow people over time and collect several samples, especially since these chemicals metabolize quickly and one snapshot may not represent the true chemical exposure.
The group has several ongoing studies on the potential impacts of phthalate and BPA exposure on pregnancy outcomes and child development.
The paper appears on the recent edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.