Have You Gone BPA-free? Does it Really Make a Difference?

BPA free water bottles

Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmic/

For several years now, the BPA-free craze has been on the rise. The initial concern focused on baby’s products.

Keegan is 9 now, and I do not remember any BPA-free water bottles when he was an infant, so the public demand for these types of products began after this time. Now, I don’t think you can actually buy any products that contain BPA.

During this same timeframe, the use of BPA-free plastics has become common in other plastic products. However, BPA is present in many other commonly used items, including:

  • Thermal register receipts
  • The lining of aluminum cans (both drinks as well as foods)
  • Other plastic bottles

Overall, it seems like society has become aware of the BPA concerns in plastics and is a least driving the market for BPA-free containers. Unfortunately, it still seems like the health implications of BPA have not quite settled in.

Let me say this—the research on the links between BPA and breast cancer, obesity and diabetes is clear and consistent. This chemical compound has distinct hormonal effects on the human body. Despite this, you can’t go ten feet without seeing someone lugging around a plastic water bottle like their life depended on it. This just seems to represent a disconnect between the health effects of BPA and the reality of its continued usage.

For the rest of you that have moved to BPA-free plastics does it really make a difference? Are the BPA-free plastics that have replaced the BPA-loaded plastics really any better?

My gut feeling has also been to be leery of all plastics. My family moved to stainless steel and glass for containers and dishware our household for quite a while now. Unless there are no additional options, we do not drink out of plastic water bottles, regardless of whether or not the bottles are BPA-free or not.

Turns out that I may not be completely off my rocker on this one. In this particular study, researchers looked at the hormonal effects of the alternative plastics that have replaced BPA. Two of the common replacement plastics contain bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF).

They looked across 32 studies (25 in vitro only, and 7 in vivo—meaning in actual patients). Here’s what they found:

  • The majority of these studies found the potency to be as potent as BPA.
  • These mechanisms included estrogenic, antiestrogenic, androgenic, and antiandrogenic.
  • BPS also has estradiol-like properties as they relate to cell proliferation, differentiation, and death.
  • BPS and BPF also showed other effects in vitro and in vivo, such as altered organ weights, reproductive end points, and enzyme expression.

In other words, the plastics that have been used by industry to replace BPA are likely no better for us than the plastics we are trying to avoid.

The bottom line is that you should be doing your best to avoid plastics for both you and your family. Switch to stainless steel and glass-based products when possible.


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.