Boosting fertility: Protecting yourself from plastics

We drink from plastic bottles and use plastic food wraps all the time but a growing number of scientists are getting concerned about the safety of these products, along with tin cans and dental sealants. This is because some substances in certain plastics used to make various products have been shown to have substances such as nonylphenol and octylphenol, biphenolic compounds and phthalates which can have a negative effect on reproductive hormones and fertility.


One such chemical is bisphenol-A, a synthetic oestrogen used in the manufacture of many food containers, cans and baby bottles and dental sealants. To illustrate the power of this chemical, some male workers developed breasts after inhaling dust containing bisphenol-A and one study showed that women with a history of miscarriage can have as much as three times the chemical bisphenol-A in their blood compared to women who have never miscarried.


Other research has raised questions about the safety of cling film made of a type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which contains plasticisers. Some animal studies suggest that PVC may be an endocrine or hormone disruptor. Other research on phthalates – chemicals which are used in commercial products as softeners of plastics, solvents in perfumes and additives to hair sprays, lubricants and insect repellents – has shown that they have the potential to be reproductive toxins. Until we know more about the effects of common plastics on our reproductive health use the simple strategies below to protect yourself:


          Use plastic wraps and cookware made of polyethylene which doesn’t contain plasticisers. If the product doesn’t make this clear, don’t buy it.

          When you reheat or cook food don’t let plastic wrap touch it

          Don’t wrap food in cling film; use paper instead. Immediately remove cling film wrap from food you buy and transfer them to a bag or container. Better yet ask the person on the deli to wrap your food in paper.

          Don’t store fatty food in plastic wrap. Xenoestrogens are lipophilic (fat loving) and will tend to leach into foods with a high fat content.

          If you buy hard cheese wrapped in plastic use a knife to shave off the surface layer

          Avoid food that needs to be microwaved in a plastic container. Better still avoid microwaving food altogether.

          Use glass bottles. Cans and plastic bottles of fizzy drink contain six times the amount of aluminium compared to the same beverages in glass bottles. There is always a small amount of residue that dissolves into drinks from the lining of a can or from a plastic bottle. Glass bottles are much better than plastic.

          Refill your own non-plastic water bottle instead of using toxic plastic water bottles. While it’s good for your health to carry your own water and drink it throughout the day, if it’s in a clear polycarbonate plastic bottle, it can be leaching a toxic substance into your water-even if the bottle is sitting on table at room temperature.

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