A Cynical Sleight of Hand

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Girls on Tamoxifen know that BPA, Bisphenol A, is bad. The estrogenic effects of BPA were first discovered by an Edward Charles Dodd in the 1930s while in pursuit of the perfect estrogen, for therapeutic use in treating “ladies problems”. Unfortunately he found a better one, which meant BPA was never used as a drug and hence was never banned for its side effects. The substance he did find, diethylstilbestrol, was eventually banned after it was shown to induce rare vaginal cancers in the daughters of women who took it.

I won’t bore you with the enormous list of documented health and environmental effects of BPA. BPA has been linked to cancer, particularly breast cancer, asthma, obesity and neurological disorders1. The evidence continues to mount, but governments continue to declare that BPA is safe2, no doubt because of the huge economic stakes in BPA. 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced each year. In theory, we metabolise and excrete it very rapidly and therefore it is of no risk, but in practice we are constantly exposed to it. The fight against this toxin in our environment is somewhat like the fight against the sale of that other well known and profitable carcinogen, tobacco. Fortunately, consumers have voted with their wallets and the shelves of plastic bottles and storage containers are now all merrily adorned with BPA-free stickers. In 2012 BPA was banned in baby bottles in the U.S. after manufacturers responded to consumer concerns.

So last week I was sipping my banana smoothie from the BPA-free polycarbonate beaker that came with my stick blender and it occurred to me that I didn’t know what had replaced the BPA. The answer is BPS, Bisphenol-S. “Hang on!”, I cried. “Isn’t that very similar chemically to BPA? Has that been tested for estrogenic activity?”

BPS, it’s true, is more stable than BPA and less likely to leach into drinking water, food and banana smoothies, but it is at least as estrogenic as BPA3. Plastic manufacturers, it seems, somewhat disingenuously, neglected to check!

As well as polycarbonate plastic, BPS appears on the surface of cash register receipts and BPA is still used in the lining of food tins.

So , out went the polycarbonate beakers, out went my daughter’s polycarbonate bottles, out went tins of chickpeas and tomatoes and now I try not to collect cash register receipts.

For a more reasoned and authoritative history and descriptions of concerns regarding BPA, particularly at low doses, I refer you to The American Journal of Public Health.

Now for the weigh-in. I seem to have plateaued, but, if I’m honest, that’s not because of some changes in my metabolism, that’s because I have been stress eating in response to an anxious-making event looming next Sunday. Once that is over I’m sure I’ll be able to return to normal behaviour. None the less, I’m going to have another go at getting my carbs below 100g/day, this time by ditching the peanut butter oat bar and substituting scrambled eggs and egg white. Hopefully this will have the psychological effect of stopping me from putting things like bread in my mouth because one slice of bread will tip me well and truly back over the 100g mark.

Anyway, I did lose 100g this week and now my pants keep falling down!

Weight: 57.0kg.

Plastic Box Image by Marcel Hol

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