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Everyday Items That May Be Hindering Your Health

Everyday items could be causing everything from mood swings to infertility and even cancer.

Chemicals found in plastic water bottles, lipsticks, tampons, receipts and even tap water are wreaking havoc on people’s hormones, which is linked to a growing number of health problems.

Research published earlier this week reveals more than 90 percent of receipts contain the so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) and its ‘healthier alternative’ Bisphenol S (BPS), which are associated with autism, ADHD, type 2 diabetes, premature births and early onset of puberty, reports the Daily Mail.

Researchers from the Michigan-based non-profit organisation The Ecology Center analyzed 207 paper receipts from a variety of businesses collected between January and April 2017.

However despite their health concerns, such chemicals are frequently added to day-to-day products to provide scent and extend their shelf life.

In a piece for Healthista, editor Anna Magee speaks to reproductive experts, nutritional therapists and dentists on how to avoid such chemicals and detox your life.

Most of us take the mood swings, grumpiness and weight gain of fluctuating hormones for granted.

Yet toxic chemicals in our everyday lives could be making things worse.

Known as ‘xenoestrogens’, these substances, which are found in plastics, cosmetics, sanitary products, receipts and even tap water can mimic the hormone oestrogen and are linked not only to middle-aged spread but also reproductive problems, learning difficulties and even cancer.

Dr Channa Jayasena, a clinical senior lecturer and consultant in reproductive endocrinology at Imperial College London, said: ‘We know little about such hormone altering chemicals but our increasing exposure to them is a cause for concern.

“The risk of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals is enormous and we’re just at the start of learning what they do.
“My concern is that by the time we work out what they actually do, they might be causing diseases we don’t know about.”

So, what can you do? Start by identifying the sources of fake oestrogens in your life and take simple steps to detox them.

Water bottles and other plastics

Dr Jayasena said: “Chemicals in plastics behave like oestrogen in our systems when they reach our bloodstream.”

Chief offender is BPA found in plastic containers, water bottles and linings for tinned foods and drinks. A 2016 study revealed that two out of three canned foods tested positive for BPA.

A survey by the US Centers for Disease Control found that 93 per cent of the population had measurable amounts of BPA in their systems.

According to the Food Standards Agency, there is European legislation in place which sets a maximum limit on BPA from plastics, however, such risks are being re-evaluated by European authorities due to new scientific information emerging on the dangers of such exposure.

BPA and other xenoestrogens not only effect our waistlines but also our reproductive systems.

Dr Jayasena said: “Men’s sperm counts have decreased dramatically in the last decade and we’re now looking at the part hormone disrupting chemicals in our packaging, food and water play in this.”

Dr Sara Gottfried, a US gynaecologist and author of “The Hormone Cure” and new book, “Younger: The Breakthrough Programme to Reset our Genes and Reverse Ageing”, added: “Many problems are co-related with BPA from weight gain to endometriosis and breast cancer.

“This and other xenoestrogen chemicals build up in the body, accelerating ageing and hindering weight loss.”

While some companies market plastic products as “BPA-free”, substitute chemicals, known as BPS and BPF, may be just as dangerous.

A study in April this year by the Endocrine Society in the US found that exposure to BPS could increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer, while a paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2015 reviewed 32 studies on the subject and found that all three chemicals are hormone disruptors linked to problems such as weight gain and reproductive issues.

• How to detox

Dr Gottfried said: “Heat, microwave use, dishwasher use or leaving a plastic water bottle in the sun can all release such chemicals.

“Avoid microwaving your food with cling film over it or while it’s in plastic containers.
“Use stainless steel water bottles where you can, cook and store food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel, and use glass or microwave-safe ceramics for microwaving.
“If you must use plastic containers, don’t heat them up”.

She also recommends people try and avoid tinned food or rinse their contents carefully before eating.

BPA is found in plastic water bottles, containers, and linings for tinned food and drinks.

Tap water, fruit and vegetables

Dr Jayasena said: “Xenoestrogen chemicals are in our water supply, fruit and vegetables thanks to their use in farming.”

For example, while DDT, a pesticide with proven hormone-disrupting effects, has been banned, glyphosate, a similar xenostrogen chemical linked to breast cancer and obesity, which is found in the common garden weedkiller Round Up, is still commonly available.

Round Up is one of many pesticides used in Britain that is made from chemicals with endocrine-disrupting effects, the residues of which leech into our tap water and rivers, and remains on the skin of fruit and vegetables.

• How to detox

Dr Gottfried recommends people drink filtered water, using carbon to absorb impurities and contaminants. Reverse osmosis filters can remove more chemicals but require fitting to taps at home and can be expensive.

Nutritional therapist Daniel O’Shannessy, who is also director of Bodhimaya Health Centre, says people can remove pesticides from the skin of fruit and vegetables by soaking them in water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before cooking.

They can also check websites such as the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) for their “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”; lists of the most and least contaminated produce.

More than 90 percent of receipts contain the so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemical BP.

Receipts, sanitary products and napkins

Dr Gottfried said: “The shiny coating on receipts is giving you a dose of BPA every time you touch it and we know the skin absorbs such chemicals almost as well as when we ingest them.”
France is seeking an EU-wide ban on till receipts containing BPA, with most of its receipts being marked “sans BPA”.

Such sources of synthetic oestrogens contribute to your overall toxic load, increasing your risk of oestrogen dominance.

Other paper sources of synthetic oestrogens include sanitary towels and tampons, which contains xenoestrogens called dioxins – and are linked to fertility, immune issues and endometriosis – as well as table napkins, which may be coated in BPA.

• How to detox

Try and go receipt free, and look for organic or dioxin-free sanitary products that have not been bleached or dyed. Also opt for unbleached, uncoated napkins.

Dental fillings

BPA is used in plastics, with the resins making composite fillings.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene found that BPA was found in the saliva of all 30 dental patients surveyed, while further research in 2012, published in the journal Paediatrics, found that children fitted with fillings made from a substance containing BPA show more behavioural problems compared to their peers.

• How to detox

Dentist James Goolnik of Bow Lane Dental Group, said: “Composite fillings are the least expensive [around £200 a tooth (NZD $380)] of all fillings after mercury and, as mercury has so many confirmed dangers, many people opt for composite.

“But while many contain synthetic oestrogen chemicals such as BPA, it’s now possible to ask for BPA-free composite fillings”.
“Alternatively, porcelain won’t contain toxic chemicals, is tooth coloured, more durable than composite and is about £500 (NZD $952) a tooth.
“If the filling isn’t visible, the best option is gold as it virtually lasts forever, is kinder to your tooth and also contains no toxic chemicals but at around £800 (NZD $1,523) a filling, it’s pricey.
“I still wouldn’t recommend having plastic fillings removed because of the BPA effect as the removal process not only leads to more tooth tissue being damaged it can aggravate the release of more chemicals into the system.”

Cosmetics

That lipstick you cannot live without could be adding to your ostrogen load.

In the 1990s, chemicals known as parabens in body creams, lipsticks, scrubs, shampoos and more were identified as xenoestrogens, while in 2004, British researcher Philippa Darbre found them in breast cancer cells.

Likewise, a family of chemicals known as sulphates also have an oestrogen-like effect on the body and are responsible for create lathers in shampoos, body washes, detergents and soaps.

• How to detox

Dr Gottfried said: “Ignore labels such as chemical-free, ‘natural’ or ‘for sensitive skin’ as these have no regulated meaning.

Instead, opt for organic skincare and make-up, or products that are sulphate- and paraben-free.

Perfumes and scented candles

Dr Gottfried said: “Many commercial perfumes and scented candles contain phthalates, a class of chemicals found in a surprising number of common household products such as shampoos, deodorants, body washes, hair gels and nail polishes.
“There’s little doubt phthalate chemicals are a key contributor to the inability to lose weight caused by oestrogen dominance.
“Research into the effects of phthalate is ongoing but we know they cause birth defects in male foetuses, are associated with poor egg quality and early menopause in women, and may also be linked to breast cancer and type-2 diabetes”.

• How to detox

Look for phthalate-free cosmetics and unscented candles, ideally made from soya wax.

High-grade essential oils in water used with an oil burner are also a great alternative to scented candles.

Three ways to detox excess oestrogen

Simple lifestyle measures can help, according Daniel O’Shaunnessy, a nutritional therapist at the Bodhimaya Health Centre.

• Eat flaxseeds

Constipation can lead to hormonal imbalances by slowing down the passing of hormones from food and water through the gut. Flaxseeds contain fibre that helps ease this.

Try a tablespoon soaked overnight in a glass of water and then added to smoothies, porridge or taken neat.

• Eat broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, help detoxify fake oestrogen from the liver.

• Take a probiotic

This will help balance the beneficial microflora in your gut, which can help increase motility, meaning you eliminate toxins faster.

By: Anna Magee, Alexandra Thompson       Daily Mail      21 Jan, 2018 
 


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13 Ways to Keep Plastics Out of Your Food

Take action to protect your food—and your family—from BPA.

Our exploding use of plastics may be causing population decline in the industrial world. The possible cause? “Chemicals in commerce.” Namely plastics.

Our bodies have receptor sites for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. These sites fulfill various important bodily functions. Imagine if instead of real hormones the receptors receive chemicals that mimic hormones, such as are found in plasticizers. This fools the body into thinking it has the real thing until, oops, the plasticizer or other hormone disrupting chemical derails the system. Called endocrine disruption, this phenomenon was brought to worldwide attention in 1996 with the seminal book Our Stolen Future.

There are a number of before-and-after reports of people eating food that had been stored in plastic packaging who then have their blood drawn to see horrifying spikes of the plasticizer bisphenol a (BPA). The discussion about the experiment in the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck is the most famous. Many plastic items are made with BPA, and parents especially have put pressure on companies to drop it. Unfortunately, the common “BPA-Free” substitute, BPS, may cause hyperactivity.

A 2014 NIH study reports that “Growing evidence from research on laboratory animals, wildlife, and humans supports the view that BPA produces an endocrine disrupting effect and adversely affects male reproductive function.”

Phthalates such as DEHP are designed to make plastic soft, such as for plastic food wrap. DEHP has been reported in an NIH study to affect male reproductive development, sperm quality and male hormone levels in general. The problems can go beyond low sperm quality, to include low libido, cancer and erectile dysfunction.

Worse, experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical. Niels Erik Skakkebaek, an adjunct professor in endocrine disrupters, has for years advocated the concept that poor semen quality is part of a bigger phenomenon, called testicular dysgenesis syndrome.

One real challenge with the research is that scientists have only measured plasticizers in urine since 2000. Skeptics will say there isn’t nearly enough research to prove that plastic exposure is causing low sperm count. Industry is fighting hard to keep BPA on the market and FDA is changing course due to that pressure.

BPA isn’t just bad for men. Research has shown that BPA exposure can impact pregnant women’s thyroids and has been linked to cell damage in post-menopausal women.

The mandate of the precautionary principle is to take preventive action in the face of scientific uncertainty in order to prevent harm. Carolyn Raffensperger is the founding executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. She says the precautionary principle “has three building blocks. One is scientific uncertainty. The second is the likelihood or the plausibility of harm. The third element is precautionary action….the Precautionary Principle invites action: it says you’ve got to take action.”

Here are ways to take action to protect your food from BPA.

1. Smell and taste test.

Can you smell or taste plastic? If you can smell plastic, track down the source and remove it. If you can taste plastic, don’t eat that type or source of food again.

2. Use glass or stainless steel.

Avoid drinking from plastic bottles and choose glass or stainless steel instead. Make a special point to avoid polycarbonate, the “hard” plastic with a recycling code of #7 (more about this in #5, below). And be sure to use glass baby bottles for infants.

3. Avoid processed food.

If there was ever a reason to stop eating processed foods, this is it. The plasticizer adipate (DEHA) is used as an additive in all sorts of foods, including ones you wouldn’t expect, such as fat, dairy and egg-based deserts, frozen fish, processed fruit and breakfast cereals. It is a chemical that helps material resist high temperatures and is also used in foods as a bulking agent, stabilizer and thickener.

4. Skip plastic food wraps.

DEHP (phthalates) are found in food wrap and many kinds are made of PVC, #3 on the recycling code. It’s especially important to refrain from storing hot, fatty food in plastic as the plastics easily migrate into the food. So skip the cling wrap and go for glass food storage containers. Never heat food in plastic in a microwave.

5. Check recyling codes.

Check for #3 and #7 recycling codes, and use plastic-free alternatives for the products. #3 is commonly used for packaging of salad dressing, ketchup, mineral water, cooking oil, mouthwash, shampoo, etc. #7 is commonly found in aseptic packaging and baby bottles. It is also found in some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food storage containers, most canned foods, and hard plastic water bottles. Read more about toxic plastics in “The 10 Most Contaminated Foods in Your Fridge.”

6. Don’t burn plastic.

Don’t burn plastic, whatever you do. Don’t start a fire using any food packaging in the fireplace or wood stove, don’t clean up a campsite before you leave by burning packaging, and don’t burn food packaging in the backyard burn barrels. Breathing these chemicals is not a good idea!

7. Make food essentials at home.

Buy products packaged in glass or learn to make your own: 10 Healthy Food Essentials You Can Make at Home.

8. Skip canned foods and soda.

Just skip canned food and soda until the industry finds plastic-free alternatives. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans. Note that aseptic packaging, such as Tetra Pak, is BPA-free, but does contain low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

9. Check your wine and beer containers.

Wine that has been fermented in BPA-resin lined vats will contain BPA, as will wine that touches synthetic corks that are made with BPA. Happily, it is extremely rare for wine to be fermented in BPA-resin lined vats to begin with. Most wine is fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Wines that have BPA are fermented in concrete fermentation vats, but check your vineyard to make sure, if local. Also, beer cans are lined with BPA, so choose glass bottles instead.

10. Avoid plastic food containers.

Polycarbonate is a hard plastic, so those hard plastic food storage containers are out. Instead of storing food in plastic, use glass.

11. Store filtered water in glass containers.

You need filtered water. Most counter-top water filters have a polycarbonate receptacle. You can manage a few workarounds for this. Place the top of the filter on top of a big glass or stainless steel jug so the water will pass through the filter and be stored in a clean container.

12. Swap out plastic kitchen appliances for glass.

The receptacles of many kitchen appliances, like coffee makers, blenders and food processors are plastic. Most coffee makers have a plastic reservoir to hold the water. Most blenders, food processords and popcorn makers are made entirely of polycarbonate. For coffee, you can use a glass French press. Make sure you don’t put hot fatty food into kitchen appliances as they suck up plastic the most.

13. Avoid handling receipts.

The thermal paper for cash register receipts carries large amounts of BPA. When you shop for food, try not to handle the receipt with your exposed hand.

Find more plastic alternatives at LifeWithoutPlastic.com
 
By Annie B. Bond      AlterNet        September 13, 2017

Annie B. Bond is the author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999). She is the co-author of True Food: Eight Simple Steps to a Healthier You, winner of the Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World.


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Toxic Chemical Bpa Still Common In Blood Samples: Survey

OTTAWA – Seven years after Canada declared bisphenol A, or BPA, to be toxic to human health, a national survey of chemicals in Canadians’ bodies shows more than 90 per cent of Canadians have it in their blood and the exposure may actually be getting worse, not better.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and commonly found in food and beverage containers such as cans and reusable water bottles. It has been linked to brain and behavioural issues in babies and children as well as high blood pressure and infertility in adults. Some studies even suggest early exposure to BPA may make people more prone to obesity.

Health Canada on Thursday released its fourth version of a survey monitoring the presence of toxic chemicals in blood and urine based on testing done on 5,700 Canadians across the country in 2014 and 2015.

The survey used blood and urine samples collected from people between three and 79 years old in 16 different locations in seven provinces.

The results detected the presence of BPA in the blood of 92.7 per cent of the people tested, compared with 92.2 per cent of people tested in 2011 and 2012.

In 2010, the federal government formally declared BPA to be toxic, and banned its use in baby bottles that same year.

The formal declaration was supposed to make it easier for Canada to ban the use of BPA with regulations rather than requiring time-consuming legislative amendments.

Since then, there have been voluntary reductions in the use of BPA in such products as infant formula packaging, food tins and some reusable water bottles, but Canada hasn’t formally banned its use in anything else.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and commonly found
in food and beverage containers such as cans and reusable water bottles.

While BPA is listed on Environment Canada’s list of toxic substances alongside arsenic, asbestos, lead and mercury, Health Canada also concludes that the current amount of BPA exposure Canadians get from food and beverage containers is low enough that it doesn’t pose a health risk when used in those products.

Muhannad Malas, the toxics program manager for Environmental Defence, said the biomonitoring survey results clearly show any efforts to reduce exposure to BPA thus far are not working.

“I think that sort of points to the inadequacy of the regulations we have on BPA,” said Malas. “So seven years ago BPA was banned in baby bottles after it was declared toxic, seven years later we’re not really seeing BPA levels going down and that’s because it’s continued to be used in things like cash register receipts and food cans.”

Last year Environmental Defence participated in a study with some U.S. organizations which found the presence of BPA in 81 per cent of food cans on store shelves.

Malas said equally disturbing is that the substances being used to replace BPA are not proven to be any safer than BPA.

Environmental Defence Thursday called for Canada to use the results of this report to help guide its decision on what to do about the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In June, a parliamentary committee made 87 recommendations for improvements to the law, which is the main statute governing the use of chemicals in Canada.

Among those recommendations were to amend the act to make it the principal statute to regulate products containing toxic chemicals, give cabinet more authority to demand data and testing results on products to help assess their risk to Canadians and that the act require all products containing hazardous substances to have mandatory warning labels.

Health Minister Jane Philpott and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna need to respond to the committee recommendations by mid-October.

McKenna said Thursday the government is still studying the recommendations:

“The health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for us and we’re always looking at how we can improve and do better to make sure that we keep Canadians healthy and safe.”

The Canadian Press    Friday, August 25, 2017 
source: ctvnews.ca


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10 Canned Goods You Should Stop Buying—and Healthier Alternatives

Yes, they’re made of metal. But canned goods are commonly lined with Bisphenol a, better known as BPA, which has potential health complications ranging from weight gain to cancer. And, guess what? In the U.S., the primary source of BPA are canned foods. Here’s how you can find better-for-you options.

Canned tomatoes and sauces

Acidic foods leach out the BPA more than other foods, which means canned tomatoes and tomato sauces tend to test higher in BPA content according to Consumer Reports. Alternate packaging, such as tomato sauces in glass jars or chopped tomatoes in boxed containers lessen the amount of BPA content. For example, the brands Pomi and Cirio package their chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce in boxes. Many marinara varieties are available in glass jars. Tomato paste, although not shown to be high in BPA, can be purchased in tubes rather than cans—look for the brands San Marzano, Mutti, Amore, and Cento.

Tuna

Health Canada, the government health department, reported that canned tuna contained the highest amount of BPA among a wide variety of canned foods. Fortunately for tuna lovers, shelf-stable pouches provide an alternative to the canned version. Popular brands Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and Starkist sell tuna pouches.

Veggies

Canned green beans and corn tested higher in BPA than other vegetables. Better choices for your family include fresh or frozen green beans and corn, and as a bonus—fresh and frozen contain more fiber than the canned variety. Here are 30 more ways to sneak fiber in your diet.

Infant formula

A study reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found BPA in all liquid baby formulas tested, even after diluted with water. To avoid this, purchase the powdered formulas in plastic containers, or the liquid formula in boxed packages.

Soda

Multiple research studies show canned soft drinks contain BPA, and that goes for diet varieties, too, reports Health Canada. Highest BPA levels were found in Diet 7-up and Mountain Dew. Glass bottles are a safer bet—or better yet, trade your soda for one of these flavored waters.

Beans

To avoid BPA in your chili and burritos, choose dried beans over canned. While they take a bit longer to prepare, your pinto and black beans will be healthier. Try using a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time of dried beans. Or, cook dried beans in bulk and freeze in one to two cup portions for later use. Dried beans boast high nutrition content in an economical choice.

Soups and stews

Due to the variety of ingredients and recipes for canned soups, stews and entrees, the BPA content varies widely. Health Canada reported the highest BPA levels in Campbell’s brand of canned soups. Consumer Reports found that packaging soups in juice-box-type or plastic containers with peel-off metal lids decreases, but does not eliminate BPA from the food. Tomato-based pasta soups, such as Chef Boyardee’s Beef Ravioli in Tomato Meat Sauce and Spaghetti and Meatballs, contain BPA despite the type of packaging. In fact, the plastic container of the beef ravioli had more BPA than the canned variety. Steer clear of these processed soups and choose homemade healthier soups and stews.

Salsa

The Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive database includes organic and non-organic canned or bottled salsa on their list of foods that may contain BPA. With the acidic contents of salsa (think tomatoes, onions, and peppers), even the metal jar top appears to contribute to the BPA present in the popular condiment. Homemade salsa from fresh ingredients is your best bet.

Beer

Although fancy artsy canned beer is making a resurgence in popularity among craft breweries, the BPA may not be worth it. Reports in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and the Journal of Food Protection demonstrated BPA in beer from cans. Opt for glass bottled beer or draught. Did you know you can do more with beer than drink it? Check out these unexpected uses for beer.

Aerosol cans

Those super fun aerosol spray cans of whipped cream contain BPA, per the Environmental Working Group. Other foods in aerosol cans, such as squirty processed cheese and cooking oil sprays, may contain BPA. Select fresh cheese for your snacks, liquid oils to grease your pans, and make your own fresh whipped cream. Find out what your favorite cheese says about your personality.

BY JENNIFER BOWERS, PHD, RD
source: www.rd.com


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Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?

Let’s cover the original misinformation first: The earliest missives warned that microwaved plastic releases cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins into food. The problem with that warning is that plastics don’t contain dioxins. They are created when garbage, plastics, metals, wood, and other materials are burned. As long as you don’t burn your food in a microwave, you aren’t exposing yourself to dioxins.

Migrating chemicals

There’s no single substance called “plastic.” That term covers many materials made from an array of organic and inorganic compounds. Substances are often added to plastic to help shape or stabilize it. Two of these plasticizers are

  • bisphenol-A (BPA), added to make clear, hard plastic
  • phthalates, added to make plastic soft and flexible

BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.

When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. Any migration is likely to be greater with fatty foods such as meats and cheeses than with other foods.

The FDA long ago recognized the potential for small amounts of plasticizers to migrate into food. So it closely regulates plastic containers and materials that come into contact with food. The FDA requires manufacturers to test these containers using tests that meet FDA standards and specifications. It then reviews test data before approving a container for microwave use.

Some of these tests measure the migration of chemicals at temperatures that the container or wrap is likely to encounter during ordinary use. For microwave approval, the agency estimates the ratio of plastic surface area to food, how long the container is likely to be in the microwave, how often a person is likely to eat from the container, and how hot the food can be expected to get during microwaving. The scientists also measure the chemicals that leach into food and the extent to which they migrate in different kinds of foods. The maximum allowable amount is 100–1,000 times less per pound of body weight than the amount shown to harm laboratory animals over a lifetime of use. Only containers that pass this test can display a microwave-safe icon, the words “microwave safe,” or words to the effect that they’re approved for use in microwave ovens.

When Good Housekeeping microwaved food in 31 plastic containers, lids, and wraps, it found that almost none of the food contained plastic additives.

What about containers without a microwave-safe label? They aren’t necessarily unsafe; the FDA simply hasn’t determined whether it is or not.

man-microwave-dinner-into-mic

Is Styrofoam microwave safe?

Contrary to popular belief, some Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers can safely be used in the microwave. Just follow the same rule you follow for other plastic containers: Check the label.

The bottom line

Here are some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:

  • If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for use in microwave ovens.
  • Don’t let plastic wrap touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, white paper towels, or a domed container that fits over a plate or bowl are better alternatives.
  • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
  • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
  • Old, scratched, or cracked containers, or those that have been microwaved many times, may leach out more plasticizers.
  • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
  • Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.

 Read more about the BPA controversy and get tips to decrease your exposure.

 Updated: October 27, 2015   Originally published: February 2006


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Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone

Add Zing to Your Meals

Onions and garlic are your allies in the kitchen and in the bedroom. They help you make more and better sperm. Both raise levels of a hormone that triggers your body to make testosterone. And both have high levels of natural plant chemical called flavonoids, which safeguard your li’l swimmers against damage.

Pile on the Protein

Lean beef, chicken, fish, and eggs are some of your options. Tofu, nuts, and seeds have protein, too. Try to get about 5 to 6 ounces per day, although the ideal amount for you depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. When you don’t eat enough of these foods, your body makes more of a substance that binds with testosterone, leaving you with less T available to do its job.

Go Fish

Fatty kinds like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich with vitamin D. It’s a natural testosterone booster because it plays a crucial role in hormone production.

More Magnesium

This mineral blocks a protein from binding with testosterone. The result? More of the usable man-stuff floating around in your blood. Spinach is packed with magnesium. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are good sources, too.

Order Oysters

There’s a reason why these mollusks are known for being great for fertility. They have almost five times your recommended daily dose of zinc. This mineral helps your body make testosterone. You can also get it in beef and beans. And it’s often added to breakfast cereal.

Bonus: Zinc boosts your immune system.

pomegranate-juice

 

Pick Pomegranate

Start your day with a glass of this ancient seedy fruit’s juice instead of OJ. It lowers levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which helps raise levels of sex hormones including testosterone. And it can lower your blood pressure and put you in a better mood!

Diet Down

A Mediterranean-style diet can help keep your weight in check and protect you from insulin resistance, which is related to lower T levels. And when your testosterone is low, your fat levels go up, which can lead to your body not using insulin well. You can break this cycle.

Trade saturated fats for healthier ones such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Choose lean meats and whole grains. Eat lots of veggies and fruits.

Back Off the Beer

It takes only 5 days of regular drinking for your testosterone level to drop. Alcohol may throw off many parts of your body’s hormone system. Heavy drinkers can have shrunken testes, thin chest and beard hair, and higher levels of the female hormone estrogen.

Use Glass, Not Plastic

Be careful about what you store your leftovers in. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical found in some plastics, cans, and other food packaging. It can mess with your hormone-making process. After 6 months, men who worked around BPA every day had lower testosterone levels than men who didn’t.

Build Your Strength

Focus your workouts on your muscles. Hit the weight room at the gym, or get a trainer to help you with a routine on the exercise machines. Cardio has its benefits, but it doesn’t boost your testosterone like strength training can.

Be careful to not overdo it. Too much exercise can take your T level in the other direction.

Get Enough ZZZs

Your body turns up the testosterone when you fall asleep. The levels peak when you start dreaming and stay there until you wake up. But daytime testosterone levels can drop up to 15% when you get only 5 hours of sleep. Aim for 7 or 8 hours every night, even if it means a shift in your schedule or a limit to your late-night plans.

source: www.webmd.com


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The Dangers of Using K-Cups for Your Morning Cup of Joe

You might want to stick with your traditional coffee machine.

BY MACAELA MACKENZIE    February 24, 2016  Women’s Health

Opinions on having a morning cup of joe from a disposable coffee pod tend to be pretty divisive—you either love K-Cups or hate ‘em. But as of this week, personal opinions no longer matter for residents of one German city.

Hamburg has officially banned all coffee pods (including K-Cups) from government buildings, citing their negative environmental impact, according to CNN. But is your Keurig brew really that bad? Well, kinda.

Here are four real concerns about getting your caffeine fix from a coffee pod.

1. They Produce a Ton of Waste
Those little cups may not seem like a big deal, but think about how often you have to empty the Keurig bin at the office—those babies pile up fast. For every six grams of coffee, you’re looking at about three grams of waste—much less efficient than sticking with a more traditional brew. To put it in perspective, in 2014 Mother Jones estimated that we disposed of enough K-Cups to wrap around the world 10.5 times. Damn.

coffee

2. They Aren’t Biodegradable
Since they contain more than one type of material, K-Cups are extremely difficult to recycle. In an effort to be more eco-friendly, Keurig has promised to make their cups recyclable—but not until 2020. Until then, you’ll have to separate the aluminum top from the plastic cup yourself and then find a special recycling service.

3. They Contain Aluminum
The fact that K-Cups contain aluminum is also not great for the environment. Even if all that aluminum doesn’t end up in a landfill (and that can pile up with some serious speed), recycling aluminum produces some toxic byproducts that have to be buried in a landfill anyway. Not a problem you have to deal with if you’re using an old-fashioned coffee filter.

4. They Could Pose a Hazard to Your Health
K-Cups have been confirmed to be BPA-free and made of “safe” plastic, but some studies show that even this type of material can have harmful effects when heated. When you come into contact with these plastic chemicals, they can act like estrogen in your body, throwing your hormones out of whack.


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How Fast Food Messes With Your Hormones

Alexandra Sifferlin @acsifferlin  April 13, 2016     

A new study shows people who eat fast food have higher levels of chemicals in their system

If you want to eat healthy, you’ll need to forgo fast food, which is high in sodium, sugar and grease. A new study supplies even more incentive to do so by finding that fast food is a source of chemicals called phthalates, which have been linked to a list of possible health burdens like hormone disruption and lower sperm count.

The new report, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate more fast food also had higher levels of two substances that occur when phthalates—which make plastic more flexible—break down in the body. “The same range of concentrations measured in this [group] overlaps with the range of concentrations that have been measured in some of epidemiological studies that find adverse health effects,” says study author Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Prior studies have shown that diet is a source of exposure for plastics chemicals like phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), and that processed food may be of particular concern. The new study is the largest to look at exposure from fast food fare specifically.

mcdonalds

To reach these findings, Zota and her co-authors looked at data from more than 8,800 people who were part of a survey where they detailed all the food they ate in the last 24 hours and then provided a urine sample. Two specific phthalate byproducts were identified: DEHP and DiNP. People who ate 35% or more of their total calories from fast food in the last 24 hours had around 24% higher levels of DEHP compared to people who didn’t eat fast food, and close to 40% higher levels of DiNP. The team also looked for traces of BPA, but did not observe a pattern.

In general, about a third of all the people in the study had eaten fast food in the prior day. “That’s a lot,” says Zota. “That alone tells you the public health impact of this type of food preparation.” It’s believed that phthalates could leach into food during preparation or packaging. Plastic gloves and conveyer belts could be sources, Zota says, and heat from cooking may also make it easier for chemicals to get into food.

The researchers say they hope the findings provide insight into how chemicals can enter our bodies. More research is needed to fully understand what effects these chemicals may have over time. “Our study helps shed light on one potential way that people can reduce their exposure to these chemicals through their diet, but it also points to a broader problem of widespread chemicals in our food systems that will require many different types of stakeholders to get involved in order to fix it,” Zota says.

source: time.com


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Experts Link Chemicals to Diabetes, Obesity

Sept. 28, 2015 – People who are trying to lose weight or manage diabetes should try to change their lifestyle not only to exercise or cut calories, but also to avoid chemicals that may be contributing to their condition, experts say.

“You may have a healthy meal, but if it’s in a plastic container, it’s leaching chemicals,” said Andrea Gore, PhD, a pharmacologist at the University of Texas at Austin in a webinar for reporters on Monday.

Gore is the chair of a task force that issued on Monday a new statement on the harm from hormone-disrupting chemicals. The statement, which is based on a review of more than 1,300 studies, says there’s convincing evidence to support a link between hundreds of hormone disruptors and several chronic health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Hormone-sensitive cancers in women (breast, endometrial, ovarian)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor brain development and brain function in young children

Researchers say the statement is significant because it comes from a group of doctors that treat people for hormone problems instead of scientists who study the effects of chemicals in animals or on cells.

Gore said the evidence for these effects is now strong enough that everyone should take steps to avoid chemicals that block or mimic the action of hormones in the body.

She also called on doctors who are treating patients for infertility to tell their patients to avoid hormone disruptors, which are known to decrease semen quality and interfere with how ovaries work. She said doctors who are counseling pregnant women and the parents of young children should also warn about chemical exposures.

“In particular, we’re worried about fetuses, infants, children, etc.,” she said, because exposure to the chemicals during development could set the stage for disease down the road.

Avoiding these kinds of chemicals is easier said than done, however, since no one knows how many of them exist or exactly how they’re being used. That’s because chemicals aren’t tested for safety before they used in products that are sold to consumers.

There are about 85,000 chemicals known to be used in the U.S. No one knows how many might disrupt hormones.

“Not all of them are EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals], but if even 1% of them were EDCs, that would be 850 chemicals,” Gore said.

Some of the best-known hormone-disrupting chemicals include:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, which are used in some plastics, metal food cans, and cash register receipts
  • Phthalates, a class of chemicals that are used to soften plastic and also used in some perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics
  • Some pesticides, like DDT
  • Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical

receipt

“They act at very low doses,” she said.

The statement calls for better safety testing to determine which chemicals could pose problems, tighter regulation, and more research on the health effects.

Environmental health experts cheered the new statement.

“I’m thrilled,” said Richard Stahlhut, MD, a visiting research scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“The endocrinologists had to be the first ones on board, and fortunately, they are,” he said. “If they’re not on board, then maybe people like me are crazy,” said Stahlhut, who studies the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals like BPA.

Chemical manufacturers said the statement went too far.

“The statement incorrectly characterizes as settled the still-unproven hypothesis regarding risks of low levels of exposure to particular chemicals. In doing so, the [Endocrine] Society discounts the extensive reviews by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority that were unable to substantiate the health significance of the so called low-dose effects,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement.

“Furthermore, the Endocrine Society’s report fails to differentiate between chemicals that are ‘endocrine-active,’ meaning they interact with the endocrine system, and those that are ‘endocrine disruptors,’ meaning that the levels of exposure associated with that interaction cause scientifically-proven adverse health effects,” the statement said.

Some retailers and manufacturers aren’t waiting for the dust to settle on the chemical debate.

On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Target is expanding the list of chemicals it would ask suppliers to take out of their products. The expanded list will included nearly 600 chemicals on Health Canada’s roster of prohibited cosmetic ingredients. It will include triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps and some toothpastes.

Walmart also has a list of substances it asks retailers to avoid, though it doesn’t post the list publicly, Bloomberg reported.

Until more is known, Gore said consumers could reduce their exposure to known endocrine disruptors by avoiding bottled water in plastic bottles and being careful not to heat or microwave food in plastic containers.

Stahlhut said people who are concerned about chemical exposure should try to do the best they can, but because it’s impossible to avoid all potential exposures, to “Try to be Zen about it. Don’t drive yourself crazy.”

He said he tries to eat and drink out of stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic. He especially tries to avoid heating food in plastic. He said he tries to avoid chemicals in the nonstick coatings by cooking in cast-iron pans. And he steers clear of soaps and toothpaste with triclosan.

“Make the easy choices when you can. Make the harder choices when you can afford it,” he said.

By Brenda Goodman, MA        WebMD Health News      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES:
Andrea C. Gore, PhD, professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology, University of Texas at Austin; chair, Endocrine Society Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Austin, TX.
Richard Stahlhut, MD, visiting research scientist, University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Endocrine Society, Scientific Statement, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Sept. 28, 2015.
The American Chemistry Council.
Bloomberg News.

source:  WebMD


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BPA is still everywhere, and mounting evidence suggests harmful effects

By Amanda Mascarelli    December 9, 2013

These days the baby aisle shelves are lined with products proudly announcing: “BPA-free.” As a mom and a consumer, this is reassuring. BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical used in the production of plastics and many other products, has been linked to a variety of health problems such as reproductive disorders, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A 2003-2004 national health survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in more than 93 percent of 2,517 urine samples from people age 6 and older.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration stated that BPA was safe for use in food-related materials such as plastic food containers and the linings of food and beverage cans, including containers for liquid infant formula. Last year, the FDA ruled that BPA could no longer be used in the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy cups; this action came after the chemical industry and major manufacturers had abandoned the use of BPA in those products.

But the chemical is found in many other common items: medical devices, dental sealants and compact discs, to name a few. Even paper receipts from the grocery store and ATM machines often contain BPA. In short, it’s pretty hard to avoid the chemical.

In the past few years, the FDA has expressed greater concern about BPA. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health launched a $30 million, five-year program in collaboration with the FDA and the CDC to examine long-term health outcomes associated with developmental exposure to BPA. Research from this effort will be pouring out over the next few years. But the studies already emerging continue to add to the evidence that the safety of BPA is highly uncertain.

These and many other studies have converged on a central message: Even at low levels and particularly during prenatal development and early childhood, exposure to BPA — known to mimic the hormone estrogen — can have subtle but detrimental effects.

When chemicals such as BPA mimic hormones, it leads to what’s called endocrine disruption. “The effect is not necessarily toxic in the traditional sense,” says Sarah Vogel, director of the health program at the Environmental Defense Fund and author of “Is it Safe? BPA and the Struggle to Define the Safety of Chemicals,” but it is a disruption.

Hormonal signals work the way a lock and key work. We have receptors (the locks) that receive signals from hormones (the keys). “[BPA] is almost like a little master key because it can fit into many of these little locks that are in your body and in your cells,” says Emilie Rissman, a behavioral neuroendocrinologist at the University of Virginia.

Rissman and other researchers are finding that when humans and other animals are exposed to BPA during critical developmental windows such as in the womb and in infancy, the chemical can scramble cellular signals and leave lasting biological effects.

receipt
BPA is found in such common items as receipts.

For instance, a 2012 study found that when female rhesus monkeys were exposed to low doses of BPA during their second or third trimesters of pregnancy, the chemical caused defects in egg formation in the offspring. In other studies of the same rhesus monkeys, researchers found abnormalities in the development of other organ systems including the brain, lungs and reproductive tract following prenatal BPA exposure.

BPA has also been linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers have also found that newborn rats that were exposed to low doses of BPA for a short period had a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer (an estrogen-induced cancer) later in life. “It’s as if early life exposure [to BPA] programmed a memory in the prostate gland,” says Gail Prins, a physiologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago who led that research. In soon-to-be published studies, Prins’s group has found nearly identical results with human prostates created from stem cells and exposed to BPA during development.

Prins’s work and that of others is finding that BPA is causing alterations at the level of the epigenome — the modifications, or tags, that tell genes when to turn on and off. For instance, a study published this year found that BPA disturbs the epigenetic programming of gene expression in the brains of mice.

Most concerning, recent studies suggest that these epigenetic changes may be heritable between generations. Rissman and her colleagues have found that low-level exposure to BPA in pregnant mice suppresses gene expression of two proteins that are important in regulating social behavior — oxytocin and vasopressin — and alters social behaviors in the fourth generation (the great-great grandchildren) of the exposed mice. The implications of Rissman’s work are “profoundly disturbing,” says Pete Myers, chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit research organization in Charlottesville. The levels of BPA that Rissman is experimenting with, he notes, are in the same range as those found in most people.

We can reduce our BPA exposure by making choices such as opting for electronic receipts, using fresh and frozen vegetables rather than canned, choosing glass and stainless steel containers and not microwaving food in polycarbonate plastic containers. (The heat in a microwave can cause plastic to break down, allowing BPA to leach into food or liquids.) Still, the chemical is all around us, and there is controversy around whether current replacements are any safer.