Print a Patient Handout on Plastics! Ten Simple Ways to Avoid Exposure to Harmful Plastics provides valuable information that physicians and other health care providers should share with patients.
Oregon Environmental Council has valuable information about protecting children's health from harmful plastics, such as BPA. Here, you will also find scientific research, FAQs and details about the current bill to ban BPA.
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility offers a guide to safer plastics as well as a frequently updated, informative presentation on "Plastics and Human Health" and information on chemicals policy reform.
What is Bisphenol A (BPA)?
- Chemical used in 1930s as an estrogen replacement hormone
- Used in epoxy resin lining cans for food/beverages to prevent a metallic taste
- Key ingredient in polycarbonate plastic used for baby bottles, cups, water bottles and pipes, toys, medical devises and more.
- Heat, acidity and wear increase BPA leaching into food or beverages
- Over 2 billion pounds made yearly in the U.S. and one of the world’s highest production-volume chemicals (world wide: over 6 billion pounds/year).
Why do we care?
Bisphenol A is linked to many human health problems and is found in nearly everyone
- Linked to an increase in diabetes; Disrupts pancreatic â-cells in vivo.
- Elevated liver enzymes and heart disease
- Increase in male infertility, gonadal dysgenesis, linked to prostate enlargement and cancer
- Linked to early puberty, increase in ovarian cysts, breast tissue changes and increase breast cancer risk and other gonadal dysfunction
- Increase in obesity and anti-thyroid effect in animal studies
- Causes epigenetic changes affecting gene expression (DNA methylation) that can be genetically passed to offspring
- Effects on developing brain resulting in behavior changes especially in females
What is an endocrine disrupter?
Endocrine disrupters can alter, block or mimic the synthesis, transport, binding or metabolism of endogenous hormones. Bisphenol A was used as an estrogen but depending on the dose or in the presence of other hormones like estradiol BPA can also act as an anti-estrogen. Estrogen receptors are located in numerous parts of the brain, pancreas, thyroid, cardiovascular and gonadal tissue. BPA is also known to modulate thyroid and androgenic receptors.
Endocrine disrupters can be more active in low doses so even very small doses are harmful especially to the developing fetus or at critical stages of childhood development.
Role of physicians
Patient advocate: Educate about safer plastics. Avoid Bisphenol A or polycarbonate plastics (#7) when pregnant or in childhood. Never microwave any type of plastic, even if it is labeled “microwave-safe.” Avoid canned foods and beverages as much as possible; encourage fresh, frozen foods or glass packaging, which can be reused or recycled.
Influence Policymakers: Watch and help for new Oregon legislation in 2011. Encourage your federal legislators and the EPA to move more quickly to remove Bisphenol A in baby bottles and canned products and encourage alternative safer products.
Click here for a printable version of the above information to share with your colleagues and staff.