Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gender Bending Chemicals and Alzheimer's Disease

BPA is a chemical found in clear plastics that act like estrogen in our bodies.  Not only can they cause breast development and other feminizing symptoms in men, but apparently they can be involved in the neurological brain changes that may result in Alzheimer's Disease as well.

It seems research was done on monkey brains which closely resemble our human brains.  The monkeys were injected with the same amount of BPA as is currently allowed in the US.  After a while their brains were examined to see what the effects were.  Researchers found alarming changes in the synapses of their brains.  Their brains had been damaged.

Synapses are the breaks between the neurons in our brains.  The electrical impulse generated must jump across from one neuron to the next in order for the brain to function properly.  Without the ability for the electricity to jump from one neuron to another, this communication cannot occur.  It is like cutting a fiberoptic phone cable.  When that happens you can no longer talk to the neighbor next door.  In the monkeys treated with BPA, these synapses were no longer functioning properly.

BPA has been a part of our society for decades, and 98% of those people tested for it have it in their bloodstreams.  The longer it is in our society, the more we seem to become dependent on the plastics that carry it.  It is in virtually everything from soda cans and the plastic bags used to wrap store products, to the pajamas our children wear.  Levels are rarely tested in humans, but when they are they are frequently elevated - even in the umbilical cord blood of babies.

BPA is continually leached from these plastics that carry them.  This is unfortunately quite normal.  When these plastics are heated or cooled, the amount of BPA leached from them increases, sometimes at an alarming rate.

Even so called BPA Free products are leaching the chemical!  How can this be?!

When tested, 70% of plastic products tested showed estrogen mimicking activity.  This number jumped to 95% when the plastics were treated like they normally would in the real world with dishwashing and microwaving.  Which were the 5% that tested free of BPA?  We'll never know because labeling laws don't require companies to tell us this information.

There are many, many studies linking even extremely low exposure to BPA to damage, yet we continue to use it.  In 2010 Canada labeled BPA as a toxic compound.  We in the US are addicted to our cheap plastics, and one can only wonder how long it will take us to finally acknowledge the harm BPA is doing to our society and label it as toxic, let alone ban it.

If BPA is linked to Alzheimer's as these studies seem to indicate, might this be the reason for the dramatic rise in the incidence of Alzheimer's? 

BPA exposure is largely controllable.   We can eliminate BPA.  But BPA containing plastics are cheap and our society is addicted to them.  Can you imagine a world without plastic?

Our household has gone a long way toward eliminating these damaging chemicals by eliminating as much plastic from our lives as we can.  Food storage is glass.  Refrigerator storage is glass.  We buy non-processed food that needs no packaging.  I TRY to buy soda in glass bottles as well as the processed or pre-cooked food (like spaghetti sauce) in glass as possible.  I hope to do more canning this summer/fall as well, so that will hopefully help to eliminate the need for tinned foods that are lined with harmful BPA containing plastic.

What other things do you think we could do to help eliminate plastic from our lives?

Have your Alzheimer's Disease communities discussed BPA and its toxic links to this dread disease?  What are they saying?  Do you know more about BPA and AD that you could share here?  Feel free to include links so we can pass this information on to our favorite AD communities too!

Emily Frank MD
Dr Mercola

Comment by Alicia C. Staley on March 29, 2011 at 2:20pm
Thanks for sharing this information.  This is a very important topic for many health communities, including the breast cancer community.  I will share this information with those communities as well.

BPA seems so harmful, yet plastics with BPA continue to be made and sold.  I wish there was a better way to regulate the use of BPA. For me, I try to limit my use of all plastics, and choose to buy juices and milk in glass whenever possible.

Thanks for the information about the possible link between BPA and AD as well!

Comment by mandy on March 30, 2011 at 5:40pm
What an important topic, Ellen! I definitely knew about the issues with BPA, but had no idea it was linked to AD!
I actually just came across this article by Fast Company with six steps to avoiding BPA in your daily life: -- I really like how they qualified each step with its difficulty level. It's not easy, but every inch counts!

Thanks for the reminder!
Comment by Ellen S on March 31, 2011 at 10:28am
Alicia, I wish I would have thought to tag this for the breast cancer community as well! I'm really glad you found it useful and hope you get a chance to share it there too. Really I think these chemicals apply to us all! I am frankly appalled that there is no way for us to get away from them, and can't help but wonder if these types of chemicals aren't the reason for so many of the "new"problems we are having with so many of the diseases that affect us now that didn't seem to be so much of a problem 100 years ago. I too try using glass whwnever possible, but honestly - how are we to know what our food is exposed to during initial handling, cooking etc before it ever gets to the packaging stage? Of course there is the growing stage too! I wish these chemicals were outlawed to be truthful, but our society s addicted to convenience, speed and ease that plastics have brought us.

If you decide to write anything to the bc community about this, I hope you'll give us a link here. I would personally love to see what they are saying!
Comment by Ellen S on March 31, 2011 at 10:38am
Mandy, Thank you for an excellent article on ways we can try to eliminate BPA from our diets. So much of it made common sense. Some of it sounded nearly impossible for the average family. One of the thoughts I had going thru my brain while reading it was... People are going to ignore this because of the cost to eat and prepare food in this way. My take on it is this... How expensive is health care? Prevention of illness will outweigh that cost any day of the week.

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