In the past few years, bisphenol A has generated a lot of negative buzz in the press for its links to causing cancer. According to NPR, BPA is found in almost 90 percent of plastic containers, sometimes even sneaking its way into those labeled "BPA-free." The harmful effects are only magnified when this chemical is exposed to heat, which causes BPA to leach into the food or beverage that is being warmed up. Aside from cancer (specifically breast and prostate cancers), BPA has been shown to cause heart disease and reproductive disorders, as well as having long-term negative effects on memory and the ability to learn.
Oftentimes with a hectic schedule, it's easiest to microwave food that has been either previously prepared by you or purchased as a ready meal (referred to as a "TV dinner" by some). But have a closer look at that bag of rice that only takes you 90 seconds to warm up. Does it say it's BPA-free? And now that you know how irrelevant that "guarantee" is, how are you supposed to trust it even if it is written on the bag?
Scientists are still so uncertain about the causes and effects of BPA that while it's never a good idea to obsess over anything in life, it certainly is wise to play it safe until there is more information at your disposal. Just because a container is marked as being microwave-safe doesn't mean it's BPA-free. Your safest bet is to skip the microwave altogether and store and reheat leftovers in glass or ceramic containers. (Check out http://www.snapware.com to see statements about the precautions Snapware takes to ensure its containers are free of BPA.) If you do find it easier to keep that Tupperware as your go-to for food storage, remember to let the food fully cool before packing it up.
Avoid purchasing anything "microwave-ready" that comes in a plastic bag. While the instant gratification of a quick meal can be enticing, just think of how inconvenient the effects could be in the long run if these timesaving tricks were to someday lead to cancer. Think of the hours you'd have to spend in doctor's offices getting tested and, in the worst-case scenario, undergoing the treatment phases of cancer.
Breast cancer survivor and rock legend Sheryl Crow recently started a public campaign to inform people of the harmful effects that could potentially come from drinking from plastic water bottles that have been left out in the heat. Her oncologist told her that when a plastic water bottle is left in a car or anywhere else with sun or heat exposure, the result mirrors that which happens when plastic containers are put in the microwave. The BPA from the plastic could infiltrate the water, and if you're sipping from that same bottle throughout the day, you're pouring those chemicals directly into your body. There are many cost-efficient and environmentally friendly water bottle options that provide the comfort of knowing your water-drinking habits are safe. You can find many reviews and comparisons online using About.com.
It seems as if there's a new study every day popping up about cancer-causing agents found in food products, plastic containers and even certain lotions that people apply to their skin daily. But with every theory that seems to bring scientists closer to discovering what exactly causes cancer, there is opposing data that argue those findings to be false. How are you supposed to know what to believe?
Rather than worry or let fear dictate your thoughts (stress isn't good for anyone's health), choose to take the precautions that feel right to you. Arm yourself with information so that you can take control of your health. Think of it this way: If someone told you secrets that could potentially lead to making millions of dollars, would you listen? Apply that same mentality to your health, and pay attention to the research out there -- not in a manic or frantic way, but with the power that comes from knowing you are always in charge of what you put into your body.