A new study that had subjects handle store receipts showed BPA (bisphenol-A) absorbed through the skin stays in the body much longer than ingested BPA. The study had subjects handle common store receipts for five minutes, then wear gloves for two hours before washing their hands.
BPA measurements in the subjects’ urine showed BPA levels highest for the first two days after handling the receipts. After one week, three of the six volunteers still showed BPA in their urine.
However, when the subjects ate a cookie with BPA, follow up urinalysis showed BPA levels spiked after five hours but was cleared after a day. The scientists concluded that the body can more quickly metabolize and clear ingested BPA than BPA absorbed through the skin.
BPA is well known for its role in triggering and exacerbating autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and autoimmunity that attacks nerve sheathes, akin to what is seen with multiple sclerosis (MS). People with Hashimoto’s, MS, and other autoimmune diseases should work to minimize their exposure to this toxin.
BPA toxicity in everyday food and beverages
BPA (bisphenol-A) is the main component of polycarbonate and is found in water and beverage bottles, plastic lids, the lining of tin cans, food storage containers, dental sealants, contact lenses, and electronics.
Store receipts aren’t the only place people come in contact with BPA. Canned foods often contain significant amounts of the chemical — the lining in a soup can can deliver 1,000 percent more BPA than fresh soup.
Plastics beverage bottles are a common source of exposure, especially if the bottle has been exposed to heat, light, or acids (such as soda).
Plastic food containers, especially if they have been heated, are another common source. Plastic coffee lids, straws, and any other food plastics deliver BPA as well.
If you have Hashimoto’s, neurological autoimmunity, or another form of autoimmunity use non-toxic alternatives to plastic beverage and food containers as much as possible.
BPA on store receipts and Hashimoto’s risks
Store receipts aren’t the only source of BPA that can be absorbed through the skin, putting the person with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism at greater risk. Other sources of thermal paper that contains high amounts of BPA include fast food receipts, ATM receipts, airline tickets, gas station receipts, lottery tickets, fax paper (if anyone still uses that), etc.
Although this latest study had subjects handle the receipts for five minutes, previous studies have shown handling a receipt for just five seconds transfers BPA through your skin and into your bloodstream. Your skin absorbs ten times as much if your fingers are wet or greasy.
You can even absorb BPA from handling cash that has been stored with receipts. If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, you may want to ask the cashier to put your receipt in the bag. If you are a cashier, consider wearing gloves while you work.
Why BPA is toxic to the body
Studies have shown BPA to be problematic to human health in various ways. It has estrogen-like properties that skew hormone balance.
Rodent studies have shown BPA causes reproductive defects, cancer, and breakdowns in metabolic and immune health.
BPA is especially toxic to a developing fetus, raising the risk of causing chromosomal errors, miscarriage, and genetic damage.
The chemical is also linked to poorer sperm quality, early puberty, reproductive dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, neurological autoimmunity, and obesity.
BPA-free is no guarantee
Unfortunately, products listed as “BPA-free” are not a green light either. Many non-BPA plastics also contain synthetic estrogens. If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, it’s best to use non-toxic alternatives such as glass, ceramic, and metal as much as possible and skip the plastic.
How to reduce your body burden of BPA
In your work to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, minimizing exposure to chemicals such as BPA is a vital part of your strategy as BPA and other chemicals have been shown to trigger or exacerbate Hashimoto’s thyroid autoimmunity.
Reduce your exposure to BPA as much as possible by not handling receipts and avoiding plastic food and beverage containers. Additionally, help buffer the damage of BPA and other toxins by eating a whole foods diet free of inflammatory foods and supplementing with nutritional compounds that support detoxification and cellular protection. Ask my office for more advice about using functional medicine principles to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.