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BPS: Just as Harmful as BPA?

From the Show: Health Radio
Summary: How can you avoid exposure to BPA and its just-as-harmful replacement BPS?
Air Date: 6/4/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Cassandra Kinch, PhD
KinchDr. Cassandra Kinch is a recent PhD graduate in the Department of Medical Genetics at University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Deborah Kurrasch.

Kinch's research focuses on effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS), the common analogue used in BPA-free products, on early brain development, work which is now published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

More recently, Kinch has become interested in the impact of maternal nutrition on the severity of BPA/BPS effects later in life. Her work is funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Cassandra Kinch completed her Bachelor of Science with a major in Ecology at the University of Calgary. She began her Masters at UofC in Reproductive Endocrinology then later switched focus to Neuroendocrinology and Development upon transferring into her PhD.

Due to interest garnered by the PNAS publication, Kinch has participated in three national TV interview broadcasts, 10+ media reporter interviews and published research findings in 180+ news sites, including CBC, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and LA Times. Kinch has also been personally profiled in Utoday magazine twice (June 2014, Jan. 2015) and UCalgary Medicine magazine once (Nov. 2014).
BPS: Just as Harmful as BPA?
With all the hype surrounding BPA, you might have decided to steer away from materials containing the harmful chemical.

However, you probably realized how difficult that is, since it's in so many everyday products: plastic containers, juice, soda, and water-bottles, receipts, and baby products.

In fact, 2.8 million tons of BPA (or more) is used every year in consumer plastics.

There's a replacement plastic, BPS (Bisphenol S, 4,4'sulfonyldiphenol) that is used in hard plastics, cans, and other items. Researchers are finding that BPS might not be a safe alternative to BPA, and could be putting your health at an elevated risk for serious issues.

Cassandra Kinch, PhD, shares why BPS replaced BPA, as well as if there are any health risks surrounding BPS.

RadioMD PresentsMelanie Cole's Health Radio | Original Air Date: June 4, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest: Cassandra Kinch, PhD

This is Health Radio on RadioMD. Here’s Melanie Cole.

MELANIE: With all the hype you hear in the media surrounding BPAs, you might have decided to steer away from those kinds of materials. However, you probably realize how difficult it is, since so many products – including your plastic containers, juices, sodas, water bottles, receipts now we hear, baby products – all contain these BPAs.

My guest today is Dr. Cassandra Kinch. She’s a recent PhD graduate in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Calgary. Congratulations to you and welcome to the show, Dr. Kinch.

I’d like to start by having you explain for the listeners, what is a BPA and what’s the difference between BPA and now we’re hearing about BPS?

DR. KINCH: Sure. Thank you for inviting me to be on the show. So, BPA is a chemical that’s used in the production of plastic %that are used for food containers, also in some construction materials, and it’s also present in the lining of tin cans. More recently what we’re coming to realize is that it’s actually used as a color developer on credit card receipts. Once you touch one of these products or if you’re storing food within the product, over time the product can become exposed to BPA, and then once it’s ingested or taken in by a person it, can then have a wide range of adverse physiological effects. We know this has effects on the developing fetus. We also know it has effects on the adult. So, given that there’s been a big societal push to get rid of BPAs from our consumer products, a lot of manufacturers have now been using very similar compounds, other bisphenol compounds, such as Bisphenol S. The reason for that is that they need something that’s going to make the chemical reaction in order to produce their products. So, if it’s not BPA, it might be BPS, it might be BPF, it might be BPD. So, there’s a wide range of other bisphenol compounds that are currently in use.

So, what our project our identified was that not only is BPA is harmful but BPS might also be harmful as well.

MELANIE: Wow. So, how do we really avoid all of these things? I mean the receipts? People are learning when they ask you now if you want an emailed receipt, that’s the one you take so that you just have that receipt, stick it in some file somewhere in your Gmail and there you go. You’ve got it. I personally still like the paper receipts, but I’m trying to remember to wash my hands and save paper. But what do you do about all these products? How do you stay away from them all?

DR. KINCH: Exactly. The reality of it is that these compounds are everywhere, and they’re even in our drinking water. To completely avoid these bisphenol compounds would just be unrealistic. You would have to live in a bubble, I guess. But there are things that you can do. Like you said, instead of taking a paper receipt or only take a paper receipt if you need to, you can also try to limit your exposure to the receipts. So instead of crumpling it up in your hand, you can take it with two fingers, and then as you said wash your hands right away. Also, in terms of food storage, make sure you’re storing food in glass and in terms of drinking bottles, make sure you’re using aluminum or glass bottles instead of using plastic. Furthermore, when you’re making food choices within the grocery story, try to avoid purchasing canned food.

MELANIE: Except, now, okay, I get that. We hear that – nutrition is part of what I do for a living – so I tell people that canned food, if they have to keep something in the pantry, canned food, canned vegetables, canned beans, these things, if they can’t get the fresh all the time are great alternatives. But then, now you’re saying that the cans – which is better for us? To keep the cans and have the vegetables and beans or to worry about these BPAs and things that are in the cans? How do we make that distinction? Or should we start looking to products that maybe come in a cardboard box? Are those dangerous, too? Those little cardboard boxes that soups come in now.

DR. KINCH: I haven’t heard or found any studies within my research that indicate that foods preserved within a cardboard box are harmful and have BPAs contained within the container. I mean, by and large, we know that some canned foods contain higher amounts of BPA versus other foods that are canned just based on the acidity of the food. For an example, I know that canned tomatoes, those cans are really high for bisphenol products.

MELANIE: Now, why are they high? Is it because of the citric acid in the tomatoes? Does that bring out those BPAs more than say something like corn?

DR. KINCH: No, actually I believe that the release of BPAs is the same in all canned foods but don’t quote me on that, but the reason why they need to use the BPAs is to prevent corrosion. Since some foods are more acidic that others, they’re going to have to use more BPAs in the can in order to prevent corrosion of the metal.

MELANIE: Yes. That’s kind of what I was getting at. If it’s a more acidic food there going to have to…You can even do this test yourself and put an acidic food like stewed tomatoes onto a spoon for a while and you see that it corrodes it just a little bit. So, they have to use more of it to protect the inside of the metal can to make it have a shelf life.

DR. KINCH: Exactly.

MELANIE: So, glass jars. They’re my favorite thing because not only can you wash them in the dishwasher and then use them for canning and pickling and storing other foods. But now glass jars, they don’t have anything do they?

DR. KINCH: No, and that’s what our research group generally recommends. If you’re going to be storing food, use glass. Although it is a bit heavier than plastic, and I know especially too – talking to some young mothers – it’s hard to haul around glass all the time. But really in my opinion, it seems to be the only safe alternative.

MELANIE: I agree with you. I know that when I was using bottles and bringing juice and things around for my babies that I was using glass because I just didn’t like the way when you keep washing plastic. So, the plastic water bottles, we seem addicted to these things. What about the stainless steel ones? Do those contain anything in the inside of that stainless steel?

DR. KINCH: Again, I haven’t found anything in the literature to indicate that the stainless steel containers have any harmful effects long term. Again, that being said, we’re not sure what’s going on with ongoing research. But by and large, that’s another recommendation that our research group does put forth is that if you’re going to be drinking water out of bottles, make sure that those bottles are made of glass or made of aluminum.

MELANIE: See, that’s cool. Why don’t you wrap it up in the last minute for us, please if you would Dr. Kinch, and sort of wrap up the recommendations that you have heard about, that you guys have done research on, the recommendations for avoiding these BPAs, BPSs, and all those BP things.

DR. KINCH: Sure. Our group hasn’t actually done any research ourselves on that type of exposure. We’ve just looked at what’s going on from exposure to these compounds within the brain, so we’re thinking about what’s happening physiologically. However, what our recommendations are is that make sure that you use glass containers so you avoid storing food in plastic; make sure that you’re not putting plastic contains within the dishwasher and the microwave and heating them up. Secondly, try to avoid purchasing canned foods if at all possible. And lastly, if you don’t necessarily need your receipts when you’re at a retail store, just say “no”.

MELANIE: I think that is great advice. It really is. Using glass may be a little heavier, but pretty much safer. Try and avoid those receipts if at all possible, and if you have to, maybe, wash your hands. If you have to have your receipt or something, then wash your hands. But try and save some paper and not get those things all the time. Or aluminum – if you’re going to use a water bottle, use one that you can reuse made of aluminum because it’s certainly going to be better for us in the long run and better for our landfills as well.

This is Melanie Cole. You’re listening to Health Radio right here on RadioMD. Scroll around. Share these shows with your friends. Thanks for listening and stay well.