Why Plastics Can Make You Sick

Baby with Bottle

A controversy regarding the safety of low-dose effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make hard, clear plastics such as those found in baby bottles, food-storage containers and the lining of soda cans, has reached the forefront in America.

Each year, over 6 billion tons of BPA are used to make polycarbonate plastics. Chemical bonds that BPA forms in plastic can unravel when heated, washed or exposed to acidic foods, prompting the chemical to contaminate foods. And while the plastic industry fails to see the need for alarm regarding the health impact of this chemical, researchers with no ties to the industry beg to differ.

Opposing Results

Your body is extremely sensitive to sex hormones, and miniscule amounts can induce profound changes. Therefore, since BPA imitates the sex hormone estradiol, scientists are afraid even low levels of BPA could have a negative impact. Moreover, there is evidence (among mice and rats) low doses of BPA can cause:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Early puberty
  • Increased fat formation
  • Abnormal sexual behavior
  • Disrupted reproductive cycles
  • Structural damage to the brain

Of the 115 published studies researchers reviewed on the low-dose effects of BPA, 94 of them reported harmful effects on mice and rats; 21 did not.

Coincidentally, none of the 11 studies funded by chemical companies found harmful effects caused by BPA, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported is detected in 95 percent of all patients tested. On the other hand, more than 90 percent of the studies conducted by scientists not associated with the chemical industry [text in blue] discovered negative consequences.

Environmental Health Perspectives Free Full-Text Download

USA Today April 14, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

The negative effects of bisphenol A (BPA) have been documented for many years. This latest study clearly illustrates the massive conflict of interest that is present in many major industries promoting consumer goods.

In a manner similar to those used in the pharmaceutical, tobacco, cell phone and artificial sweetener industries, the plastics industry finds ways to create misleading information about the safety -- or lack thereof -- of their products.

The results of this study again show how research findings can be manipulated by money, and how the greed of the people who head up major corporations can, indeed, have a negative impact on your health.

BPA is used in many products of modern society, not just as the building block for polycarbonate plastic (from which it leaches as the container ages), but also in the manufacture of epoxy resins and other plastics, including:

  • Polysulfone
  • Alkylphenolic
  • Polyalylate
  • Polyester-styrene
  • Certain polyester resins

According to the lead researcher in this study, BPA mimics estradiol, a sex hormone that can trigger major changes in your body, which is why medical experts are so concerned about the impact of even tiny amounts of it showing up in people. The problems associated with BPA include:

  • Structural damage to the brain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Abnormal sexual behavior
  • Increased fat formation
  • Early puberty
  • Disrupted reproductive cycles

What Now?

With the possibility of 95 percent or more of us having BPA and, quite possibly, many other chemicals in our bodies being very real, it begs the question: Can you do anything about it?


The only real way to prevent toxins from collecting in your body in the first place is to avoid exposure to them. To help you with this process, I provide some guidelines on how you can learn to identify and avoid common toxins in your environment.


There are numerous methods that can be used to help detoxify your body, and they vary in cost, time and efficacy. I tend to gravitate toward the treatments that are simple, effective, inexpensive and don't involve taking a lot of supplements.

The treatments below fit all of these criteria, and can be incorporated into your daily life. They all work to support your body's natural detoxification systems, namely your digestive system, liver, kidneys, lungs and skin.

  • Stimulate blood flow through your organs of elimination. Constitutional hydrotherapy treatments increase blood flow through your liver and kidneys, enhancing their filtering effects.
  • Increase toxin elimination through the skin. Use a sauna regularly to increase how much, how often, and how deeply you sweat.
  • Give you lungs some extra support. By practicing deep breathing exercises you can greatly enhance this vital detoxification mechanism.
  • Stimulate lymphatic flow. Dry skin brushing and exercise are two of the only ways to increase the flow of the lymphatic system, your body's garbage collector.
  • Maintain optimal levels of beneficial intestinal flora. The best ways to accomplish this are by incorporating fermented foods into your diet.

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