Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nalgene Bottles--Good or Evil?

Q and A time!
Mike, I hear that Nalgene bottles are now causing cancer and as a health concious person, I am thinking of ditching all my Nalgene plastic bottles. Is there any evidence behind this or is it another media scare tactic?

Excellent question. While I am far from a toxicologist, there is some newer evidence to show that there may be an issue. A study based on the NHANES databased from 2003-2004 (think a huge health database that collects lots of information) was just published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) a few weeks back.

"....(this) is the first-ever large-scale study on BPA in a human population," according to the authors, led by Dr Ian A Lang (Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, UK), in a statement they prepared for the media. "This is also the first time that evidence has emerged of higher BPA levels being associated with disease in adults."

What is it?
Bisphenol A (BPA), is an additive in plastic and other materials used in food packaging and consumer products and one of the world's most widely used industrial chemicals. BPA is thought to bind to estrogen receptors and mimic some of the hormone's physiologic activities. Of course if you are a guy, having higher estrogen levels should not be at the top of your list. If you are subject to the "chick flick" movie night be sure to pass on the Nalgene bottle.

While the data is not completely overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination, I personally have switched over to a bottle from Sigg that is metal and has a special liner. They are about 30 clams each with shipping, but they should last a lifetime. I notice that water stays cooler and tastes better as my Nalgene bottles tended to get that "ick factor" despite my best attempts at cleaning them and the water had funky taste to it.

The studies' authors concluded

"Using data representative of the adult US population, we found that higher urinary concentrations of BPA were associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities. These findings add to the evidence suggesting adverse effects of low-dose BPA in animals. Independent replication and follow-up studies are needed to confirm these findings and to provide evidence on whether the associations are causal."

Again, association does not mean that BPA will have a DIRECT effect on you, but for about 30 clams I decided to switch.

Association of Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration With Medical Disorders and Laboratory Abnormalities in Adults

Iain A. Lang, PhD; Tamara S. Galloway, PhD; Alan Scarlett, PhD; William E. Henley, PhD; Michael Depledge, PhD, DSc; Robert B. Wallace, MD; David Melzer, MB, PhD

JAMA. 2008;300(11):1303-1310. Published online September 16, 2008