Bisphenol A, or BPA, is one of the world’s most widespread synthetic compounds. It is found in food and drink packaging, plastic consumer products, paper receipts, toys, dental sealants, CDs and DVDs; it’s everywhere.
Since most manufacturers line their food and beverage containers with BPA, it is virtually impossible to avoid for those who follow the typical American diet. The fact that the harmful effects of BPA are now well documented in scientific and medical literature makes the continuing ubiquitous nature of this chemical even worse.
What’s the problem with BPA? The science shows that this compound acts as synthetic estrogen and an endocrine-disrupting chemical. This effect can cause widespread damage throughout the body. Hormone disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism or elimination of the body’s natural hormones. One of the most notable issues associated with the hormone disruptor BPA is the female health concern, polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and BPA
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women and one of the most common hormonal imbalance issues affecting women today. An alarming estimate is that somewhere between 5 percent to 20 percent of women of childbearing age are affected by PCOS. The most common symptoms are severe adolescent or adult onset acne, weight gain and trouble losing weight, irregular periods, prolonged periods with either light or heavy bleeding, and extra facial or chin hair, or hair on the chest, belly and back. There may also be hair loss, fertility problems, oily skin, small breast size, and depression.
PCOS can develop for a number of different reasons, including genetic predisposition, poor diet, high stress levels, high insulin levels as well as increased inflammation. However, recent research has been looking into how hormone disrupting chemicals, like BPA, play a role in PCOS.
Possibly the most alarming finding is that BPA exposure in utero could predispose offspring for PCOS development later on in life. One study analyzed pregnant rats who were injected daily with high doses of BPA. The results showed that neonatal exposure to BPA was associated with increased testosterone and estradiol levels and decreased progesterone levels in the offspring.
Reducing BPA Exposure and Potential PCOS Triggers
Although it is impossible to completely avoid toxic BPA, doing things like reducing the use of BPA lined canned goods, using glass containers to store food instead of plastic wrap, and using BPA free baby bottles are just a few simple ways to reduce exposure. Additionally, supporting the liver, your major detoxification organ, with nutrients including milk thistle N acetyl cysteine (NAC), and chlorella, will help promote more efficient toxin elimination when you are exposed.
Other lifestyle changes like reducing stress levels, incorporating exercise, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits in vegetables can also help. Supplementing with nutrients that help balance female hormones and reduce inflammation, including DIM, I3C, chasteberry, DHA and vitamin D is another method for managing symptoms.