Toxins in Your Kitchen

by Cindy Gray

When we talk about kitchen health and safety, we usually think of protecting ourselves and our family from bacteria, heat burns and sharp knives. However there is another danger lurking in the kitchen. There is growing concern about the health risks of BPA, commonly found in kitchen plasticware and tin cans.

The Health Risks of BPA vs. BPS

Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, is a chemical which is commonly used in the production of plastic. It has been associated with a number of health concerns, linking it to harmful long-term effects on unborn babies and young children. It has also been connected with aggressive behavior, hyperactivity and impaired learning in youngsters who were inadvertently exposed to the health risks of BPA in pre- and post-natal development. Other known health risks of BPA include heart disease, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.

BPA is a known endocrine disruptor, causing changes in male characteristics to make them more effeminate. It is linked to early puberty, enlarged prostate gland, lower sperm production, infertility and may cause structural damage to the brain.

Tins Cans and BPA

The health risks of BPA are widely documented. It is used in the manufacture of plastics and it is also used in the epoxy resins used to line tin cans to prevent food from causing oxidation to the metal. Many canning processing plants have noted the health risks of BPA, particularly as part of the heating process of canning, as it releases the toxic chemicals. They have switched to using the safer bisphenol-S (BPS) which was thought to be less prone to leaching into food, but the presence of BPS in human urine has now contradicted this belief.

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Research into BPS shows it has its own dangers as it produces estrogenic activity which affects the human hormone estrogen. Studies also showed that BPS can interfere with healthy cell activity, reducing the hormone prolactin which controls our metabolism, reproduction and breast-feeding. Eventually BPS can induce apoptosis and cell death.  

Opting for tin cans labelled "BPA-free" may not, after all, be any safer as you will still be exposed to BPS and other toxic chemicals.  

How to Reduce the Health Risks of BPA

As harmful toxins are leached into food, particularly during the heating process, avoiding the use of plastic containers in the microwave can dramatically reduce exposure to these toxic chemicals.

Buy meat, fish and cheese fresh to avoid them sitting in cling film on Styrofoam trays (two other major sources of BPA) for days at a time. Buying organic products also reduces exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as BPA and BPS.

Finally, buying bottle water in plastic containers is likely to contain some chemicals. Instead, use a home water purifying system to filter water from the faucet to reduce the health risks of BPA. Not only will carbon filters remove most chemicals, you will save money by banishing expensive bottled water from your shopping list—and reduce waste too.  

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