The Chemical Link to Obesity

Researchers say endocrine-disrupting chemicals can permanently harm the developing organism and may even promote obesity. But the chemical industry doesn’t want you to believe them.

I’m always weary of reports which start with a conspiracy theory: But the chemical industry doesn’t want you to believe them.

However the information in this report is neither new nor revolutionary – namely that growing levels of xenoestrogens are having a detrimental impact on the environment and human health.

The most cited culprit is bisphenol A (“BPA”) the building block of polycarbonate plastic and a known endocrine disruptor. Besides causing a range of reproduction related problems, research suggests that it is a factor for rising obesity levels.

For the most part, researchers investigating endocrine disruption had focused primarily on behavioural and reproductive consequences. But over the past few years, it’s become clear that some of the synthetic chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system also induce weight gain. What’s more, production of these chemicals closely tracks the rise of obesity.

“We think that environmental chemicals like bisphenol A are likely to target subpopulations of individuals that are rendered very sensitive to these chemicals by virtue of their genes, genetic background, maternal–fetal interactions . . . and the amount of hormones they’re exposed to.”

Given that high levels of natural estrogens are a risk factor for obesity, it doesn’t take much imagination to accept that high levels of xenoestrogens might be as well.


Recycling type #7 is the biggest risk for BPA.

There are seven classes of plastics used worldwide in packaging applications. Type 7 is the catch-all “other” class, and some type 7 plastics, such as polycarbonate (sometimes identified with the letters “PC” near the recycling symbol) and epoxy resins, are made from bisphenol A monomer. When such plastics are exposed to hot liquids, bisphenol A leaches out 55 times faster than it does under normal conditions. – Wikipedia

Experts typically cite the safest plastics as #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), and #5 PP (polypropylene).

Water is usually sold in type #1. Type #1 is considered safe for single use but should be disposed of thereafter as there is evidence to suggest that such bottles leach a compound known as DEHA, which is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, as well as acetaldehyde.


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