Plastics have been increasingly demonized in the past few decades for multiple reasons, including its resilience to biodegradation, the harm its manufacturing causes to the environment, and perhaps most importantly, the presence of BPA in most plastics.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a high-volume chemical used in the industrial production of plastic. These products are nearly infinite, ranging from everything from water bottles, adhesives, food lining in metal cans, to MP3 players, dyes, enamels, baby bottles, and plastic utensils. Many physiological dangers are presented by the presence of BPA in products we use daily, including thyroid issues, certain types of cancers, lower sperm count, breast cancer,birth defects, and dramatically lowered Testosterone. The best way to describe BPA would be to call it an artificial form of a nasty estrogen: Testosterone’s less-desirable sibling.
According to Charles Poliquin, “Strength coaches around the world are finding that it’s harder today for their athletes to pack on mass than it was 30 years ago”. Many researchers have been claiming that this recent difficulty to pack on muscle mass is due to the presence of BPA in our environment. In fact, what is considered “normal” levels of testosterone have dropped so much in the medical community that they barely hold a candle to levels from 50-60 years ago (and you wonder why I eat 24 eggs?).
There has also been an increasing awareness towards things, like breast cancer, that can be caused by environmental factors like high exposure to BPA, rather than genetics or family history. Interesting to note that the pink craze of breast cancer awareness month was actually started by a chemical company that profits from the epidemic while simultaneously contributing to the cause. While there have been studies which claim BPA is harmless to the human system, scientists are becoming keen to the fact that these studies are produced by the BPA industry. Since the BPA industry is generating an estimated 100 million dollars an hour, its easy to see why they are protecting their product. The sad news is, the FDA readily accepts industry-produced results.
One researcher has even stated that we shouldn’t consider BPA a toxin, rather it should be considered a hormone due to its ability to change the balance of our endocrine systems. While we need some levels of estrogen in our bodies (women more than men), BPA produced the exact opposite results of injecting pure Testosterone into our veins. This exposure to BPA and its estrogenic properties may explain the increase of early puberty development in grade-school girls: some girls are getting their first period as early as 8 years old.
As athletes and coaches, lowered Testosterone levels is the last thing we want for anyone. Lowered Testosterone levels lead to a lack of muscle mass, unnecessary fat retention, slow recovery times, depression, and even insulin resistance. It can be difficult, even impossible, to escape exposure to BPA in our current world. It is in literally almost everything: water (tap water and especially bottled water), almost anything made with plastic, and even the receipts from the grocery store have BPA on them. This is something that I personally must take into consideration, as all the milk I buy comes in plastic. Time for me to upgrade to the glass bottles.
While it may be impossible to completely escape exposure to BPA, there are a few things you can do to help minimize your exposure:
Eat copious amounts of broccoli. It has high levels of estrogen-blocking compounds.
Stop chewing pens. Should be self-explanatory.
Get a BPA-free bottle, like steel–one without a plastic lid.
Never re-use a plastic bottle: the microscopic cracks release even more BPA into the liquid.
NEVER pour hot water into plastic, this will cause more leaching. Note that boiling water does not reduce the BPA in it, it just becomes more concrentrated.
Buy a Brita water filter.
Replace plastic tupperware with glass tupperware.
Avoid plastics as much as possible during pregnancy. Avoid giving plastic toys to children to chew on, and avoid plastic cutlery.
Eat more meat. The consumption of meat increases Testosterone secretion.
Do more squats. No explanation necessary.
High Testosterone levels are something that all athletes require for optimal performance, and is necessary even for the average individual. Avoiding hormone-altering compounds will help you you at a healthy level, while simultaneously benefiting your future offspring. If you are curious to see if something you own contains BPA, use this simple test.