You may have heard that plastics have adverse effects on your health; but do you know that BPA, a component of some plastics can affect your testosterone levels?
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A, abbreviated as BPA is a chemical component of some plastics including those used in the manufacture of some water bottles and other food containers. BPA is also found in the coating on the interior surfaces of tin cans used in food packaging and lining of bottle tops. The synthetic chemical compound has been in use for about 50 years. However, in the recent past, bisphenol A has been implicated in various health problems including interfering with production of the male sex hormone, testosterone. This has led to a growing awareness and campaign against use of BPA especially in food handling items. But what are the effects of Bisphenol A and how can you avoid it?
Dangers of BPA
For about 10 years, there have been concerns about the safety of exposure to Bisphenol-A. This has led to a number of studies being conducted on both animals and humans. And while other studies continue to be done, it is now known that high BPA levels can have many adverse effects including increased risk of the following conditions:
- Diabetes type 2
- Heart disease
- Compromised immune function
- Abnormal thyroid function
- Asthma due to prenatal exposure to BPA
- Premature delivery
- Poor brain function
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Compromised reproductive systems in both men and women
Studies have also shown that BPA interferes with the development of embryo thyroid gland and causes poor development of embryo testicles, epididymis, and enlargement of the prostate gland.
How Bisphenol A lowers testosterone
The structure of BPA is similar to that of the female hormone, estrogen. For this reason besphenol A effects the body in a similar way to estrogen by attaching to estrogen receptors. This means that high BPA levels in a male leads to increased estrogenic effects.
Bisphenol A further affects the endocrine system by interfering with the workings of the pituitary, hypothalamus and testicular glands. The overall result of the besphenol effects on the hormonal system is reduced production of male hormones especially testosterone. This leads to low sexual capacity and associated problems.
A study carried out in four regions of China in 2010, found that compared to men with no traceable BPA levels in urine, those with high bisphenol levels have about four times lower sperm count, three times higher risk of low sperm concentration and sperm virility and two times the risk of low sperm motility.
6 Things Containing BPA to Avoid
While you may be aware that some water bottles contain BPA, do you know that bisphenol A is found in many other items in daily use? This means that every time you use or handle these items, you expose yourself to bisphenol A and its adverse effects.
Following are some items in daily use containing BPA:
- Plastic utensils like cups, dinnerware, forks and spoons. When you eat or drink from plastic containers with BPA as a component, you ingest some BPA that leaches into the food or drink. The danger is even higher when the food is hot or the container is exposed to heat. It is worth noting that the main source of BPA exposure is food. To reduce your exposure to bisphenol A, avoid plastic utensils and choose glass, ceramic or steel instead. In any case, do not heat or microwave food in plastic containers.
- PVC pipes used in plumbing. While it might be impractical to know how the water coming out of a tap got there, whenever possible, avoid water delivered through PVC piping. Similar to utensils, BPA in plastic water piping leaches into the water and ends up in your body. Remember that the higher the BPA in your body, the higher your risk of lower testosterone levels. uPVC, PPR and galvanized plumbing is BPA free.
- Dental filling & composites made from plastic may contain BPA. If these contain bisphenol A, the compound will dissolve into the saliva and end up in your bloodstream. The same is true when similar materials are used on your child. To minimize exposure to BPA, insist on products made from BPA material such as porcelain.
- Thermal receipt slips Contain BPA. While it might not be obvious, thermal receipts contain bisphenol A that can end up in your bloodstream due to repeated or extended exposure. You can help your keep your T levels healthy by minimizing contact with cash register receipts. Throw them away as soon as possible, unless you will need them later.
- Canned foods whether the container is made of metal or plastic, it may contain bisphenol A which leaches into the food. If you intend to maintain a healthy testosterone level, you need to eat less canned foods. Opt instead for fresh or frozen foods. Research has shown that avoiding canned food can lower your BPA level substantially.
- Plastic bottles, avoid reusable plastic bottles. Keep in mind that heating and washing polycarbonate bottles can increase the amount of BPA that leaches out.
Irrespective of the application, plastics marked PC, or with recycling codes 3 and 7 are likely to contain BPA or similar chemical compounds.
While BPA has provided a cheap packaging solution over the years, it has been found to pose serious health risks. Many research studies have shown that high levels of bisphenol A affects the sexual health, especially for males whose hormonal system is substantially compromised. The result is reduced sperm production, reduced sperm count and reduced sperm motility. All these come about due to the lower testosterone levels resulting from the estrogen-like nature of BPA. As the campaign against BPA continues, there are still a lot of items that can expose you to bisphenol A. And while choosing items labeled BPA-free may seem like a solution, some studies suggest that its substitutes like bisphenol F (BPF) and Bisphenol S (BPS) may also have some adverse effects. You will better maintain your sexual health by avoiding plastic as much as possible.