Blogging Aimlessly

Musings from the Sonoran Desert and elsewhere

Amy McMullen

Amy McMullen
Gold Canyon, Arizona, USA
January 01
Amy McMullen is an activist for human rights, social and economic justice and a blogger and political essayist currently residing in Arizona. Her main interests are anti-racism, immigrant rights, LBGTQ equality, health justice and women's rights. She has worked to remove the worst of the anti-immigrant, Tea Party politicians from office in Arizona and advocates to get progressives elected. Amy's former incarnations include back-to-the-land counter culturist in the 70s, small business entrepreneur, Bed and Breakfast proprietor, charter boat captain, EMT, medical assistant and rehabber of distressed homes.. She currently volunteers for the Phoenix Urban Health Collective as a street medic and is on the board of a new nonprofit devoted to providing free medical care for the uninsured and under-insured in Phoenix. Amy's writings on social justice and other subjects appear in Truthout, Salon, Addicting Info, The Tucson Sentinel, The Pragmatic Progressive and on her blog at Open Salon.

AUGUST 22, 2010 4:32PM

BPA—A Powerful Endocrine Disrupter That Affects Your Thyroid

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Perhaps you have read recently about how the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is found to be prevalent in our food and water. As a hypothyroid patient, I was surprised to see that not all articles about this harmful substance adequately describe the connection between thyroid function and BPA.  This is an oversight that should be addressed since hypothyroidism is estimated to affect over ten million people in the US and this number is growing.  It makes perfect sense to look to environmental toxins as a likely culprit in this serious health epidemic.  

BPA is a synthetic estrogen and an endocrine disrupter that causes multiple health problems. There are over 200 studies linking it to breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit disorder, early puberty in girls, genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike, polycystic ovary disease and infertility in women and prostate cancer in men. Studies indicate that up to 92% of Americans have BPA in their urine. Also BPA doesn’t leave the body quickly; fasting adults still had BPA levels in their bodies after 24 hours.

BPA comes from many plastic sources. It’s used as a hardener in plastic manufacturing. Many tin cans have plastic linings that contain BPA including soup and tomatoes, and it’s also in plastic water bottles, some infant formulas and canned juices. BPA is also found in PVC water supply piping.

How does BPA relate to thyroid disease? According to a several good studies, BPA is a thyroid receptor antagonist. This means that BPA will interfere with the binding of the thyroid hormone T3 with cell receptor sites. This will cause hypothyroidism, not only with people with under-functioning thyroids but also for those who are currently taking medications for hypothyroidism or even those who have normally functioning thyroids. BPA was found to accumulate in many organs when injected into rats including the lung, kidneys, thyroid, stomach, heart, spleen, testes, liver, and brain. In this way, BPA has the potential to interfere with thyroid hormones in each organ that has accumulated the substance. A study also indicates that the levels of BPA that are considered safe (upper limit of emission is set to 2.5 ppm [µg/liter], which is more than 90 µM) are high enough to inhibit thyroid hormone receptors. Yet another study shows that BPA appears to accumulate in rat fetuses in significantly high levels and disrupts thyroid function in baby rats.

There's also evidence that BPA may influence the metabolism of endogenous steroids, which may be a factor in adrenal fatigue and its treatment, as well as and its treatment, as well as dysautonomia stemming from adrenal problems.  Many with hypothyroidism also suffer from co-morbid adrenal fatigue and BPA may be a contributing factor in this.

What this means for everyone but especially for thyroid patients is every effort should be made to remove BPA from food and water supplies. For those who are not able to get properly optimized on their thyroid meds or who are finding they are suffering from hypothyroid symptoms despite normal levels of TSH, free T3 and free T4, consider BPA as a possible source of the problem.

Steps you can take to minimize you exposure include:

  •  Avoid all canned foods with plastic liners and avoid bottled water.
  •  Buy your canned tomatoes in glass jars, not metal cans or stick to using fresh ingredients.  Most other canned foods use BPA as well, especially green beans (Here is a list of BPA-free canned foods).
  • Drink water out of glass or stainless steel containers (and make sure there’s no plastic liner or lids that have BPA) or BPA-free plastic. Low density polyethylene bike bottles contain BPA. 
  • Do not microwave foods in plastics or use plastic wraps when microwaving. Avoid polycarbonate (“PC” or #7 and #3) plastic food containers altogether. 
  • Since most municipal water piping is PVC and some houses have it as water supply lines, consider installing a reverse osmosis system for your drinking water. This will also remove fluoride and chlorine (other thyroid disrupters) and many other harmful substances from drinking water.
Most importantly we need to make our voices heard that BPA is not an acceptable substance and that its use in our food and water supply must cease. Recently Senator Feinstein introduced a ban on BPA to the Food Safety Modernization Act but this was modified to remove the ban due to pressure by industry groups.  Senator Feinstein still has an effort underway to ban BPA from child drink bottles and toys and several states have enacted such bans but this does not go far enough. 

Contact your representatives today and let them know that a national ban on BPA must be enacted. If they don’t listen then I suggest you make yourself heard at the ballot box this November. 





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