Are Plastics Causing Brain Damage?

by in Environmental Medicine, Kitchen Sink, Research June 26, 2009

By Dr. Nicole Sundene

Recently, researchers at Yale University found an alarming result to their preliminary study on how plastics affect the functioning of our Central Nervous System.

Wow! Imagine the possibilities? Wouldn’t it be nice to blame all your forgetfulness on that Tupperware lunch you just microwaved? Maybe you had brain fog this morning because you drank your organic coffee from a plastic traveler’s mug?

Maybe it is plastics, not aluminum, causing Alzheimer’s; maybe it’s all the plastics in our environment breaking down and causing the rates of ADHD, depression, autism, and other diseases of relatively unknown etiology to suddenly rise.

Doesn’t that sound crazy? But—it very well could be reality. All new chemicals are guilty until proven innocent. Why? Because that is the SAFEST option for consumers. However, the FDA does not promote safety, they promote big business in America. Anyone can see that in their inability to properly examine new substances for consumers to ingest.

Did you know that all new food additives can be FDA approved simply by laboratory testing on animals alone? Doesn’t that make you want to think twice before drinking that sucralose sports drink? If you don’t believe me then just think about why tobacco, a known killer has not been banned by the FDA?

You are drinking a man made substance that has NEVER been tested on human beings and approved for safety.

Plastics are no different. Researchers are JUST NOW growing concerned about the degradation of plastics in our environment and starting to really do some preliminary research on the health consequences of plastics.

What would we all do without plastics? We have grown so dependent on plastics.

You might be reading this right now and freaking out! OH MY GOSH! Everything in my house is plastic. My house is made of modified plastics…I drive in plastics…I eat out of plastics…I drink out of plastics! My child is teething on a big piece of plastic.

As a doctor and researcher with a passion for biochemistry, I really think that plastics – just like lead pipes, BPA, Azo yellow dye, asbestos, and all the medications the FDA is constantly approving and then yanking off the shelves – boils down to the same final dilemma that no one in the world is ever willing to accept:

You just can’t cheat the system.

I support people looking for a better way, an easier way. I am always after the same. However, the better way does not involve “cheating the system,” it involves supporting it. When we look for cheap quick fixes for today’s problems without thinking forward to the future generations, we will ALWAYS have a problem with our environment.

Think forward to fifty years from now—think about how much more plastic will be in our environment if we don’t stop now.

So, on one hand we have a very preliminary study done on plastics…and some evidence that plastics may be the problem in certain reproductive cancers…is there enough evidence yet…?

The problem is that the FDA approves something and then that thing is this “golden child” that then must be proven guilty (via expensive research).

Is “innocent until proven guilty” the best solution for potentially toxic products? There are plastics manufacturers everywhere burying the very research we need because they don’t want consumers to stop buying their products.

As a doctor with ten years of post secondary education, I vote for “why bother waiting around to find out”. The damage done by plastics is already more than enough evidence. We know they are bad. We know they break down in to “xenoestrogens,” or molecules that structurally mimic estrogen and are thus able to stimulate estrogen receptors.

We know that we should not even be drinking out of plastic water bottles. We know that smaller organisms in our environment are slowly transforming to a predominantly female gender as a result of the presence of these xenoestrogens in our environment.

This study by Yale University showing that plastics interfere with brain functions is simply the tip of the plastics iceberg. Unfortunately this may just be too big of an iceberg for us to navigate around.

What can you do as a consumer? Stop buying plastics, of course. There are typically superior products available made of stainless steel, glass, wood, and cast iron options that have circulated through generations and proven safe by the best test of all. The test of time is better than any double blind randomized control trial.

Every new thing in science gets a critical eye from me, and the plastics story is no exception. There is enough significant evidence at this point in time to warrant pulling most plastics from the shelves, and yet the FDA is not doing so because the bottom line is always the same thing—money.

Yes, at times these things may cost a little bit more, but just think of it as YOU having the voice to VOTE for what you want our environment to be composed of by choosing NOT to purchase items made of plastic.

  1. Hey Dr. Nicole,

    Thanks for the great article. My question is – how can we avoid plastics? Should we not buy frozen foods – even vegetables? My potatoes come in a plastic bag. Are these plastic harmful as well – or is it only when they are heated that they become toxic to the human body?

    It’s scary to think how many things in our world can hurt us – and the very groups that are supposed to be protecting us are doing nothing of the sort – all in the name of big business.

    Iva @ Horizontal Yo-Yo’s last blog post..I Have Succumbed

  2. I stopped using plastic in my microwave some time ago after reading about it’s possible negative health effects.
    But I do think plastic has it’s place in society as long as we are aware of its risks and its effect on the environment.

  3. Great article! from what I have read it the concern with plastic seems to be more when it experiences a large temperature change, i.e. when heated in a microwave or when placed in a freezer

    The main problem is finding an alternative and its a bit like where do we draw the line i.e. if we stop using plastic in microwaves because we suspect its harmful, when do we stop using our microwaves?
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..What is the Best Treatment for Peyronie’s? =-.

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