During winter, I always tell people to heed Mom’s advice and wash their hands a lot. Frequent washing — with warm water and soap, please — helps prevent the spread of germs that lead to colds and flu (which saves you a lot of discomfort, as well as money you would have spent on Kleenex). As the warm weather arrives, you may feel you can stop. Don’t! I have a good reason to advocate continued scrubbing, straight through the year: to avoid bisphenol-A, or BPA for short.
You may have heard about the dangers of BPA in terms of baby bottles and plastic toys. But it’s more prevalent than that. BPA is found in 98 percent of food can linings and in more than 75 percent of receipts from gas stations and restaurants. It’s a big molecule — too big to be absorbed through your skin. Unless, of course, your food touches BPA before you eat it — as the food in a can does, or as would happen if you touch the receipt and then eat your takeout food. Then quite a lot of BPA gets inside you.
Scientists now believe BPA is an endocrine disruptor that disrupts your normal endocrine activities by stimulating many estrogen receptors. BPA is believed to be almost as deadly as secondhand smoke — you got it, like tobacco smoke, BPA promotes cancer and a host of other diseases. BPA is known to cause premature maturity in female children and decreased sperm counts and sperm function in adult men. BPA is logically thought to be a cause of increased breast cancer
and possibly prostate cancer
It’s easier than washing your car to protect yourself from this unnecessary cause of health problems. Avoid canned foods and plastic water bottles that do not say “BPA free,” and listen to your mom: Wash your hands, especially after touching receipts.