Did you know handling store receipts for just a few seconds can increase your risk of a degenerative neurological disorder? A recent study linked BPA (bisphenol-A), the toxin in plastics and store receipts, with autoimmune destruction of the lining of the nerves. Autoimmunity means the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body. It is the result of an over zealous immune system that has tipped out of balance. Autoimmunity is linked to many factors, including inflammatory triggers in your diet, environment, and lifestyle. BPA can trigger autoimmune degeneration of the sheaths that coat nerves. This is connected to autism spectrum disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), neuropathy, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. BPA is highly pervasive in our environment and shows up in the blood of nearly everyone tested. Previous research has shown BPA levels spike after handling store receipts for only five seconds, and that BPA lingers in the body long after exposure.
BPA and autoimmunity to nerve tissue
A study this year found a strong link between BPA and an autoimmune attack against nerve sheaths. The important part about this study is that it’s not based on the amount of BPA in the blood. Instead, it is based on whether you react to BPA. You can react to BPA the way you can react to gluten, dairy, or other foods, which causes symptoms in the gut, brain, respiratory tract, or skin. This means you can have low levels of BPA in your blood but still have an immune reaction to it, which can trigger autoimmunity. Conversely, you might have high levels of BPA but no immune reaction and less risk of triggering autoimmunity (although BPA is linked to plenty of other health disorders, too.) This isn't the only study to link BPA to autoimmunity, as animal studies also show a strong correlation.
BPA in mothers raises autism risk in children
An autoimmune reaction to nerve sheaths is commonly found in autism spectrum disorders, affecting as many as 80 percent of those with autism. Other research shows people with autism also have higher levels of BPA in their blood than controls. However, the most disturbing findings that immune reactions to BPA in mothers can be passed on to offspring, thus considerably raising the risk of autism in their children.
Store receipts are a major source of BPA
BPA is everywhere in our environment but one of the most common sources is in the thermal receipts used by stores, restaurants, gas stations, airlines, and ATM machines. Holding a receipt for as little as five seconds is enough to absorb it into your bloodstream. If your fingers are wet, oily, or covered in lotion or hand sanitizer, this significantly increases the uptake of BPA through your fingertips into the bloodstream.
BPA in plastics, tin cans, toys, and medical products
BPA is in many other common products such as plastic food and beverage containers, toys, tin can linings, and medical products. BPA in containers is especially problematic if in contact with heat or acid, which leaches the toxin into the food or beverage. A perfect example is a plastic bottle of soda, which will pull extra BPA into the soda. Heating food in plastic in the microwave or getting hot takeout in plastic containers will also deliver higher amounts of BPA.
BPA harms hormone health
BPA has estrogen-like qualities that in animal studies cause reproductive defects, cancer, and immune problems. BPA can also cause chromosomal errors, miscarriage, and genetic damage in the developing fetus. Furthermore, BPA is linked to lower sperm quality, early puberty, ovarian and reproductive problems, cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems , insulin resistance, and obesity.
BPA-free products are problematic too
There are many BPA-free products available now. Unfortunately, many still have synthetic estrogens that pose a health risk.
How to protect your body from inevitable BPA exposure
It's impossible to completely avoid BPA, but try and reduce your exposure as much as possible. In addition to that, functional medicine strategies can help buffer your body from the negative effects of BPA. You need to work to keep your immune system balanced and not hyper zealous, which will predispose you to chemical sensitivities and autoimmunity. Strageties include an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, beefing up glutathione reserves, and using supplements that support neurological and immune health. For more information, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
One of the main goals at RedRiver Health and Wellness Center is to work with patients to improve their health, wellbeing, and quality of life. The RedRiver Health and Wellness Center team is passionate about helping ailing patients achieve optimal health, and we truly care about the success of each and every patient.
RedRiver chiropractic physicians are great advocates for prescribing physicians and endocrinologists. In fact, many of our patients see their prescribing physician(s) more frequently while under our care than they would otherwise. Our goal is not to replace our patients’ primary care physicians and specialists, but to complement their care by providing patients with nutrition, diet, lifestyle and educational support and strategies. This way, patients can learn to manage their symptoms more efficiently. We have developed rewarding relationships with many prescribing physicians across the country, and we strive to continue to building relationships with MDs, DOs, NPs, and NMDs. When health professionals can work together for the benefit of the patient’s health, it becomes a win/win situation for the one who matters most—the patient.