Plastic and Health
We’ve seen the overt public health concerns with the global plastic crisis.
Now we’ll look at how plastics can make their way into our bodies and increase the risk of common and serious health problems.
Microplastics (MP) – a growing problem
Microplastics & Particle Pollution
- plastic debris smaller than 5 mm in size
- primary microplastics are small plastic particles (microbeads in cosmetics, textile fragments, fragments from vehicle tires, etc.)
- secondary microplastics result from breakdown of larger plastic waste
- MPs are a major source of marine pollution
- MPs have made their way into our air, water and foods, including fruits & vegetables (apples were the most contaminated fruit samples, while carrot was the most contaminated vegetable).
- Implications for human health is still largely unknown
- There’s evidence of plastic “rain” resulting in measurable MPs even in remote protected areas in the USA
- Indoor inhalable MPs are ubiquitous, too, primarily from polyester & other synthetic fibers
- In urban areas, airborne MPs may carry micropollutants
- Potential mechanisms for toxicity are under investigation, may include lung inflammation & cytotoxicity
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6496/1257 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45054-w https://www.lung.org/clean-air/outdoors/what-makes-air-unhealthy/particle-pollution https://coraball.com/
Foreign estrogen-like compounds that bind to estrogen receptors • can disrupt endogenous estrogens’ signaling pathways, leading to malfunctions • These “endocrine disruptors” are toxic, creating estrogen dominance and associated with cancer, infertility, obesity, depression, allergies, and more • Found in many sources, including plastics ingredients like phthalates and BPA • Additional common sources of xenoestrogens include agrochemicals (esp atrazine), industrial chemicals (PCBs), common self-care and cleaning product ingredients (alkylphenols, parabens, 4-MBC) and food additives (BHA, Red #3 and #40)
PhD researcher Anthony Jay’s expose of xenoestrogens aka estrogenics as he labels them.
- Well referenced, critical review of the health related science on estrogenics, both problems & solutions. Excellent tips for eliminating plastics
- In addition to depression, obesity, various cancers, low testosterone, seasonal allergies and blook clots, Dr. Jay describes how virtually all estrogenics may contribute to infertility, including "epigenetic infertility" that causes future offspring to become infertile.
- One caveat - I believe Dr. Jay was mistakenly vilifies phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) in the book, lumping them together with chemical xenoestrogens. *Generally phytoestrogens are protective, actually shielding the estrogen receptors as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Dr. Anthony Jay’s website: https://www.ajconsultingcompany.com/
Used to make plastic clearer and more flexible, aka plasticizers, that easily leech into foods/beverages.
- Common ingredient in fragranced products
- Estrogenic, linked to developmental and reproductive endocrine issues & thyroid problems
- Banned in the EU since 2016, restricted in U.S. kid’s toys since 2008
- Present in the urine of 99% of people tested, it’s difficult to find “control groups” for phthalate studies!
- Plastic #3 PVC is the worst, though phthalates are found in many plastics
Bisphenols (BPA & BPS)
BPA is a common plastic ingredient that has gotten such ill fame that it’s been largely replaced.
- Watch out for plastics labelled “BPA-free” as these often have BPS or other bisphenols! (these generally cause similar or worse problems)
- BPA is still used in lining some canned foods/beverages
- Infamous for leeching into foods, high heat or extreme cold can cause bisphenols to leech even more
- Linked to infertility, precocious puberty, hormone dependent cancers, PCOS, neurological issues & more
- Found in plastics #3 (PVC) and some #7 (polycarbonate)
Obesity - possible connection with plastics?
- Estrogenics are stored in fat cells, sometimes for up to 10 years
- They can also cause fat growth via insulin resistance and by switching on PPAR delta
- Obesity rates in the USA & Latin America have risen sharply in recent decades, meanwhile rates in Europe (where better regulations on estrogenics exist) have been more stable
- The world will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022.
- Comorbidities abound, including depression and systemic inflammation
Source: Estrogeneration by Dr. Anthony Jay https://www.paho.org/
Cancers – possible connection with plastics?
- Breast – 50% or more are environmental in origin. Evidence of increased levels of phthalates & BPA
- Breast, ovarian and prostate cancer –BPA has been shown to be involved in multiple oncogenic signaling pathways affecting these
- Leiomyomas - phthalates
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236135272_Oestrogens_Xenoestrogens_and_Hormone-Dependent_Cancers https://www.healthandenvironment.org/uploads/Cheryl_Watson_Slides.5.18.pdf https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/fulltext/2015/01010/bisphenol_a_and_hormone_associated_cancers_.6.aspx
Kids – possible connection with xenoestrogens
- Allergies & Immune issues
- Girls – precocious puberty
- Boys –effects of BPA and phthalates include decreased testosterone, decreased BDNF, and increased estrogen resulting in antiandrogenic effects, gynecomastia in puberty
Source: Estrogeneration by Dr. Anthony Jay Recommended books – Boys Adrift, Girls on Edge Recommended Products & Toys – Honest Company, Timber Locked
Hormonal Havoc & Xenoestrogens
- Testosterone –decreased in men & women (anti-androgenic effect of phthalates), sexual dysfunction & more
- Thyroid – decreased function & autoimmunity
- Women – fibroids, entometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, PMS related to estrogen dominance
- Infertility – sperm problems in men, possible “infertility inheritance” due to epigenetics