BPA May Not Mess with Fertility

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Bisphenol-A (BPA), which is found in plastics and canned foods, has been raising red flags for years, especially regarding fertility. But a new study published in EMBO Reports says the worrisome substance isn't screwing with your guy's sperm's GPS like some other chemicals.

Previous studies have shown that long-term exposure to BPA may disrupt the endocrine system, which can lead to lower sperm count and miscarriages. With this in mind, German and Dutch scientists analyzed how human sperm reacted to 96 endocrine disruptors—hormone-impacting chemicals like BPA, phthalates, dioxin, mercury, and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)—and found that some of these substances, which are present in food as well as household and personal care products, may be throwing off your guy's swimmers due to higher levels of calcium ions, which affect the sperm's ability to move forward, navigate, and penetrate the egg. But surprisingly BPA isn't one of them.

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So why does BPA have such a bum rep? Though it's in the clear this time, past research has linked long-term exposure to this chemical to increasing insulin production and triggering a wide-variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer and cardiovascular damage, adult on-set diabetes and obesity. Despite this mounting evidence, the FDA stated, in July 2013, that BPA is safe in its current uses. Let's hope that's true because it's prevalent in a lot of food and drinks, from water bottles to the lining of canned items such as tuna fish, tomatoes, and coconut, as well as pre-packaged foods and even store receipts that are printed using heat (if you scratch it and it turns black, then it's coated with BPA).

“About 95 percent of people have measurable amounts of BPA in their system. Everyone is exposed to it daily,” says Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. As alarming as that sounds, the good news is that BPA passes through your body pretty quickly. “It gets broken down and removed within a one- or two-day cycle,” she says. It's still unclear how much exposure to the stuff will cause harm to one's health.

Even though BPA doesn't linger, it's not a bad idea to limit your exposure while you wait for the government to finally decide to remove it from the food supply altogether. “If you want to get pregnant, you should avoid canned foods as much as possible just to be safe. Also, don't put your receipts in the bag with your food or let your kids play with the paper,” Lunder says. Buying fresh produce and meats that aren't processed and therefore aren't packaged in something that may contain BPA will also help. 

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