It's in water bottles, sippy cups, and the seams and linings of cans containing food: Bisphenol A (BPA) is the chemical's name, and manufacturers use it to harden plastic. Unfortunately, it may pose a health hazard.
Initially, researchers in the U.S. and abroad linked exposure to high levels of BPA in infancy to increased risk of obesity and early-onset puberty. Then, last September, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study involving 1,455 American adults, which linked high urinary levels of BPA to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver complications. Additionally, previous studies had shown that BPA can blunt the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs, says Sonya Lunder, a public health scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.
An FDA subcommittee has recommended further research be done to answer questions about BPA's safety. Some states aren't waiting to take action: At least 12 are moving to ban the chemical from baby bottles. (A few bottlemakers, such as Nalgene, have already removed BPA from their products.)
In the meantime, you can limit your exposure by not putting hot food or drinks in plastic containers (or placing those containers in the microwave): Heat causes the chemical to leach into food. Canned goods have a plastic lining that releases BPA when heated prior to sealing.
Another way to limit BPA is to favor fresh and frozen items. See below to get more ideas for BPA-free substitutions.
A Few Safe Solutions for...
Fresh is the best choice. But you can also avoid BPA by opting for food in glass jars. One option is Lucini Italia Tuscan Harvest Plum Tomatoes (diced, peeled); Lucini.com.
Currently, the only BPA-free metal cans in the United States come from Eden; EdenFoods.com. They offer beans and tomatoes.
Instead of plastic, try stainless steel. The Innate Me-Me Gripper Sippy Cup is made with a BPA-free, spill-resistant spout; Innate-Gear.com.
Travel coffee mug
Again, stainless steel is a good option. One example is the Guyot Designs Commuter, 24 ounces; GuyotDesigns.com.
From the April 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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