BPA Thyroid Hormone Disruptor : The Abominable Bisphenol-A

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a broad hormone endocrine disruptor and studies indicate that it can affect thyroid function and create a hormone imbalance, lead to negative neurological effects and contribute to growth of several types of cancer including breast and prostate.

Banning Bisphenol-A

There has been a lot of buzz lately about compounds such as Bisphenol-A as many communities have banned their use in children's products and are moving towards eliminating them in products used by adults as well. As of July 1, 2011 bottles, cups and other containers for children under 3 years of age that contain BPA cannot be made or sold in the state of Washington. Similar laws already exist in Chicago, Minnesota, Canada, the European Union and China, and are under consideration by many other governments.

BPA "Chemical of Concern" in Many Consumer Products

The Environmental Protection Agency has officially declared BPA as a "chemical of concern," despite the fact that it is still found in a multitude of products including compact disks, dental fillings, food and beverage cans and packaging, sports equipment and baby bottles.

Avoidance of key thyroid hormone and endocrine disrupting chemicals is an imperative component to any hormone balancing.

What's all the fuss about?  Studies show that BPA can alter the functioning of human endocrine system like the thyroid gland because of BPA's hormone disrupting qualities. Exposure to BPA can lead to negative effects in the brain's neurology, and human tissues can be damaged by contributing to growth of cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Some of the most severe adverse effects occur when developing fetuses and infants are exposed to these chemicals which affect brain development and the dopaminergic system that may lead to obesity, hyperactivity and ADD in children.

Unfortunately, infants and children are estimated to have the highest daily intake of BPA, which is possibly due to the fact that many plastic bottles and sippy cups contain BPA and it is more likely to leach out of plastics when they are heated. While the ban on BPA in these children's products is a step in the right direction, it is also important to encourage reproductive age men and women to avoid BPA products as there are many studies on the adverse effects of BPA on semen and oocyte quality.

BPA Linked to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Furthermore, many of the hormonal imbalance conditions that Labrix clinicians are seeing, such as PCOS, have been linked to BPA.  PCOS is a leading endocrine disorder affecting women (5%-10% of women of reproductive age 12-45 years old).

Women with PCOS have significantly higher BPA levels when compared to controls. Bisphenol A falls into a category of compounds known as xenoestrogens: The prefix xeno- denotes something that is foreign to the body, and -estrogen because the compound has an estrogen-like effect on the body. It is important to note that while BPA and similar compounds contribute to an overall estrogen dominant state, they are NOT measured by the salivary assay because the molecule is different enough in structure from endogenous estrogens that the assay does not pick it up.

Women with PCOS have significantly higher BPA levels when compared to controls.

So what is the best way for you  to avoid BPA?

The first step is to avoid using food and beverage containers that contain BPA, and especially avoiding heating food in them.

BPA is found in hard, non-pliable plastics that are usually stamped with the number 7 and sometimes contain the letters PC. Not all products will carry this stamp however, so you should assume all hard plastic items contain BPA unless the manufacturer specifically says otherwise.

BPA is not found in softer plastics such as those used in disposable water bottles, however, these do contain substances such as phthalates and other thyroid and endocrine disruptors so exposure should still be limited.

In addition to beverage containers, watch out for plastic coating in canned foods, especially soups, fruits and vegetables that may have been processed using high heat.

Always use glass or porcelain containers instead of plastic to heat or re-heat your food even if the dish is labeled "microwave safe".

Avoidance of key thyroid hormone and endocrine disrupting chemicals is an imperative component to any hormone balancing.


1. Are BPA Products Safe for Infants and Children?, National Research Center for Women and Families Website.
2. 2 National Toxicology Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (2008, September). NTP-CEHR Monograph on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Bisphenol A. Retrieved April 3, 2009 from http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/chemicals/bisphenol/bisphenol.pdf
3. Kandaraki E, Chatzigeorgiou A, Livadas S, Palioura E, Economou F, Koutsilieris M, Palimeri S, Panidis D, Diamanti-Kandarakis E. Endocrine disruptors and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): elevated serum levels of bisphenol A in women with PCOS. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Mar;96(3):E480-4. Epub 2010 Dec 30.
4. Wong EW, Cheng CY. Impacts of environmental toxicants on male reproductive dysfunction. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2011 May;32(5):290-9. Epub 2011 Feb 15
5. Li DK, Zhou Z, Miao M, He Y, Wang J, Ferber J, Herrinton LJ, Gao E, Yuan W. Urine bisphenol-A (BPA) level in relation to semen quality. Fertil Steril. 2011 Feb;95(2):625-30.e1-4. Epub 2010 Oct 29.
6. Fujimoto VY, Kim D, vom Saal FS, Lamb JD, Taylor JA, Bloom MS. Serum unconjugated bisphenol A concentrations in women may adversely influence oocyte quality during in vitro fertilization. Fertil Steril. 2011 Apr;95(5):1816-9. Epub 2010 Dec 4.

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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.