Fact or Myth: Is BPA-Free Plastic Safer?

This is MYTH.

Research keeps showing that endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be a primary reason why the United States has seen a significant rise in premature births and early onset puberty over the last few decades. Many manufacturers have stopped producing plastics with Bisphenol A (BPA) because studies have linked it to early puberty and a rise in breast and prostate cancers. Instead, they are strengthening their plastics with BispBPA FREE white stamp text on blue backgroundhenol S (BPS) and advertising this BPA-free plastic as safer. Stick with your glassware! A new study shows that both BPA and BPS accelerate embryonic development and disrupt the reproductive system.

Just as Harmful 

UCLA researchers are the first to investigate the influence BPA and BPS have on crucial brain cells and genes that modulate organs having to do with reproduction. The study, published in the journal Endocrinology, used a zebrafish model. Researchers believe that tropical zebrafish are a sound reproductive model for human development and disease, and their embryos are optically transparent, so scientists can watch what happens as the cells grow.

Researchers exposed zebrafish embryos to low levels of BPA and BPS that matched the trace amounts found in polluted river waters. Within 25 hours, the animals’ physiology at the embryonic state had changed, a phenomenon that did not occur in the absence of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Researchers also examined the development of reproductive endocrine brain cells that regulate puberty and fertility and found that BPA and BPS increase the number of these brain cells by up to 40%—strong evidence that both BPA and BPS stimulate the reproductive system to an excessive degree.

“Exposure to low levels of BPA had a significant impact on the embryos’ development of brain cells that control reproduction, and the genes that control reproduction later in life,” said senior author Nancy Wayne, a reproductive endocrinologist and a professor of physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “We saw many of these same effects with BPS found in BPA-free products. BPS is not harmless.”

They also discovered that BPA and BPS don’t just mimic estrogen, as previous research suggests, but that they also adversely affect the thyroid hormone that acts on brain development during pregnancy.

What’s the implication of these results? That BPA and BPS could be causing premature puberty and disruption of the reproductive system.

How Is It Getting into My Body?

These endocrine-disrupting chemicals are absorbed into our food from cans, water bottles, baby bottles…anything plastic! Even contact lenses, eyeglass lenses, and dental sealants and composites may contain BPA! Trade in the plastic for glass whenever you are able, and be ever vigilant, because BPA-free plastic isn’t necessarily safer.