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Scientist Mom Explains Endocrine Disruptors

When Susan Nagel shops for her family, she feels the same frustrations that many of us do about finding safe, wholesome sources to bring to the table.  She considers not only which food is best, but which type of packaging and storage to trust.  Nagel says she almost exclusively uses glass storage containers for food, and skips buying canned groceries whenever possible.  "The only thing I buy in cans are beans and I rinse them very well before eating them."  As a parent, she viewed glass baby bottles as an alternative to plastic, long before they were trendy.


Nagel's  understanding of these parenting choices is informed, because Assistant Professor Nagel, PhD, spends her days uncovering the science behind them.  She is part of the award-winning team of researchers at the University of Missouri called the Endocrine Disruptors Group.  Even prior to 1997, when her work with Professor Frederick vom Saal grabbed the scientific community's attention, Nagel had been interested in how chemicals can deceive our bodies into malfunctioning.  She and the Missouri group have earned  numerous research awards, doing significant studies commissioned by the National Institutes of Health and others.  She also did her postdoctoral training at Duke University's Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology.


I asked Nagel how it is that tiny amounts of a substance, like the lining of a food can, or a barely detectible ingredient in a plastic product could possibly harm us.  She says the key is understanding first how our bodies' natural systems work.  "Hormones like estrogen normally work at very, very low levels," explains Nagel, "so chemicals that interact with natural hormone signaling can also work at very low levels."  Endocrine disruptors like Bisphenol-A are substances that seem to mimic natural hormones, potentially giving genes the wrong signal and creating disease.


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Comment by John Browne on October 17, 2011 at 10:34pm

I understand that "tin" cans are now coated on the inside with "food grade" epoxy. Is this a suspected (or actual endocrine disruptor? Are ALL the plastics... or some component of all plastics... 'bad news'? Are there safer ones?

I mix my manure tea in 5 gallon poly buckets... and use them for harvest, too. Is there a way to 'seal' them (like oxidized metal does... or anodizing/galvanizing)?

Our household waterline is poly, too.  Does it become less of an issue over time?.. or more?

Thanks.  ^..^



Comment by Flour Sack Mama on October 18, 2011 at 9:39pm

The answer to your first question question about the epoxy inside cans is yes, this is usually one of the suspected endocrine disruptors per the scientists who study this.  Unless the outside of the can specifically promotes BPA-free on its label, you can generally assume it has BPA in its lining.  You can also contact the customer service folks listed on the outside of the product and ask.


Here is a link to an organizationthat shares in great detail about endocrine disruptors and might be helpful for your other questions.



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