Could your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes be at an increased risk just from drinking out of a water bottle, eating soup that was stored in a can, or how about drinking tap water in your home?
There have been thousands human and animal studies linking Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM).
Recently, an article published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research International completed a systematic review of 13 original research papers linking BPA exposure and T2DM. A handful of studies demonstrated a significant link between the two. Even in negative studies they looked at, there was still a statistical connection between BPA and T2DM.
The article stated that it’s no coincidence that there is a connection, however, more long term studies need to be run before any definitive connection can be made.
Let’s look at little closer into the connection.
What is BPA?
First, what is BPA? According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), BPA is a chemical used to produce epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics used in many food contact materials. It got approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1960’s. Even though we know BPA as a plastic and resin chemical, it didn’t start out that way. It was initially developed in the 1930’s by scientists aiming to make synthetic form of estrogen. Those scientists found a different drug to do the job and BPA fell to the background.
But BPA didn’t go away completely. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, it resurfaced as a chemical form of plastic and was used in Bakelite to manufacture kitchenware, jewelry, toys, and even firearms. The problem with BPA is that it leaches out of the materials it’s used in and releases its chemical compounds into the substance it was holding. So that can of peaches you consume not only has delicious sweet peaches but BPA too.
Where is it commonly found?
BPA is found in in many plastics and as resins to line cans. In one year, over 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced throughout the world. Some household items that have BPA in them are plastic food containers, processed food packages, the lining in metal cans, dental sealants and filling materials, infant bottles, medical devices, and toys. BPA leaches out when the material is exposed to an acidic environment or heat. It then leaches into foods and drinks that we consume or into our skin by touching the materials. An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in our bodies.
The controversy surrounding BPA exposure
There is much controversy around BPA exposure, mainly the fact that there haven’t been enough longitudinal studies showing long term results and effects of BPA. Another controversy is that researchers don’t know how safe BPA is, if at all, for our bodies. There have been studies conducted on animals showing a direct connection between high levels of BPA exposure and an increased risk of diabetes, reproductive health issues, and heart disease.
However, the FDA states on their website that they have evaluated the animal studies and find evidence to convince them that those studies are true. They say they have an unbiased view on the data but the data points in the other direction. It’s hard to get any regulations passed when the FDA is against you.
There is some hope though, the U.S. National Toxicology Program is the first government agency to show some concern and suggested that there is a link of BPA exposure and behavioral effects. This is far from where we need to go to regulate BPA in products but it’s a step in the right direction. With the government expressing some concern, it raised awareness to the public and many companies have started to eliminate BPA from their products. You can now see BPA Free stamped on water bottles and baby bottles, as well as, food storage containers.
Clinical research suggests
There have been thousands of clinical studies and trials conducted on humans and animals to understand the effects of BPA. Scientists have identified BPA as an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC). EDC’s prevent hormones from working correctly in our bodies. Our hormones regulate just about every cell in the body, cell that help us eat, sleep, and reproduce. The U.S. Endocrine Society reports exposure to EDC’s, like BPA, increase a person’s risk of obesity and diabetes. In a recent long term study, evidence shows a higher risk for unborn children exposed to EDC’s in the womb.
One animal study showed exposure to BPA in the womb increased the child’s risk of being overweight. It also showed cell changes in the pancreas and liver which can lead to insulin resistance later in the child’s life. Researchers cannot figure out how exactly the cells are changing, just that they are. And again the FDA says that BPA in food containers and packages is safe. More research must be done but for now there is enough evidence to start making people cut back on their BPA exposure.
Another study tested 1,455 Americans’ BPA levels. The more BPA detected in the participant’s urine, the higher their rates of getting heart disease and diabetes were. When comparing study participants, those with the highest BPA detected were twice as likely to develop diabetes or heart disease as compared to those with the lowest BPA. The study also showed that BPA negatively affects liver enzymes.
One professor said she was blown away by the results, and said now that we have human proof that BPA is harming us, we need to get this chemical out of our lives. This new data is a step in the right direction at stopping BPA from being in our household products. One epidemiologist concluded that there is no way the FDA can say that BPA is still safe after looking at this research.
A study out of West Virginia University also found that higher levels of BPA in urine samples increased the subject’s likelihood of developing T2DM. One additional interesting fact they found was that the risk of getting T2DM didn’t change with the subject’s different race, gender, age, or body weight. That shows a direct link between BPA and T2DM. This is only one of a few studies directly linking the two so of course more studies need to be done.
What can you do to decrease your risk?
First, stop using any product that contains BPA, especially food containers and cans. When you look on the recycling label of a plastic container, the product may contain BPA if you see the number 3 or 7; avoid these products at all cost. Never put plastic in the microwave. Reduce your use of canned foods. Buy fresh tomatoes and make your own sauce. Use glass or stainless steel containers and bottles when eating and drinking.
Always use BPA free bottles when feeding an infant and use BPA sippy cups for toddlers. Many soup manufacturers are now packaging in cardboard ‘bricks’ instead of cans, these are definitely the better choice. Also, if you’re pregnant limit or avoid any canned foods. If you’re having a filling done or sealants placed on your children’s teeth, make sure your dentist uses BPA free products.
If you already have T2DM, what now?
You’re already doing the best thing by educating yourself! Educate yourself about your disease, to learn more about ways to maintain a healthy blood glucose level get our free guide. Then educate others, pass on your knowledge. If you see someone heating up their lunch in a plastic container in the microwave, simply ask them if they realize the risk of BPA and T2DM. Again, if you’re pregnant, do everything in your power to avoid BPA products.
Don’t eat soup from a can. Drink your water from a glass bottle or a bottle that is BPA free. And lastly, get involved. Search the internet for studies you can get involved in. Ask to have your BPA level checked, find out what it is, if it’s high it could be directly related to your BPA exposure.
In conclusion, BPA is a harmful chemical that is found in plastics and resins. It has been shown to increase risk of not only diabetes but heart disease and obesity as well. Scientists have known for a long time that BPA and T2DM have been linked via animal studies.
And more recently a direct link has been discovered through human studies. To decrease your risk of T2DM from BPA, you should avoid all plastics with a rating of 3 and 7. Avoid cans and plastic food containers. Drink from a glass water bottle instead of plastic.
Also, never heat plastic in a microwave. If you have children, do not give them products made from BPA, including baby bottles.
Thankfully, all the research is going in the right direction. There are long term studies being conducted as we speak. Educate yourself and others to bring awareness to BPA and T2DM.