BPA-free 5 Gallon bottles are available in San Diego County!

I am very excited to report that I have FINALLY procured some 5 gallon water bottles that do not contain Bisphenol-A (BPA).  After my October 2008 post about the evils of BPA, I discovered that the 5 gallon bottles I was using at home were made from #7 plastic.  I set about replacing them immediately.  Unfortunately, at the time, I could not locate any 5 gallon bottles that were not #7 plastic.  I found a site that claimed to sell them, but they were out of stock and could not tell me when that problem would remedied.

Pure Flo water company in Santee, CA has BPA free bottles for sale in their water store.  You may also purchase them from their website.  Pure Flo has a self-serve water station at their Santee location where you can fill your 5 gallon bottles.   When I bought my new, BPA-free bottles they came with a free fill-up.

So far,I like the bottles.  They are lighter weight and softer than the crown top bottles I was using but they take the same dew caps.  Gregory did discover, to our consternation, that the no spill top we used to use with our old bottles will fit the new bottles but is then almost impossible to remove when you want to switch bottles.  The bottles are molded AROUND the handles, so there is little chance that the handles will pop off of the bottles.  The handle seemed comfortable enough to use and did not seem to dig into my hand.

I do not know if Pure Flo will deliver water in BPA-free bottles or not but I’m sure they would happily entertain the question.

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BPA-free 5 Gallon bottles are available in San Diego County!

Musings on hormones and health insurance

My acupuncturist made me borrow a book from her: The Sexy Years by Suzanne Somers. It surprised me by being interesting and useful. Its really aimed at women 10 years older than I am, but it was interesting nonetheless. I only read half of it and now want to get it back out of my house. It’s become part of the clutter problem and must go. But I digress.

The main thing I want to remember is the concept of bioidentical hormones. When considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT), bioidentical hormones are best. It makes perfect sense. Bioidentical hormones are easy for the body to process and will have the same effect on the body as its own hormones.

I also want to remember that testosterone levels are important for women and their libidos. In fact, decreased sensation in the genital region and even atrophy of the nerves can be linked to low free testosterone levels. I hope that in 10 years I can revisit this book and more recent research on the topic. I hope that my financial situation will allow me to seek out the right doctors for determining my own perfect balance of hormones if my health insurance won’t cover the treatment.

In fact, I wish that I could get some of that help now. While I was pregnant, I was healthier than I’ve ever been. My body liked the pregnancy hormones — A LOT. Almost all of my little aches and pains and some of the bigger ones, like hives, went away.  They didn’t start returning until a few weeks and months postpartum. Now I am beginning to take the mini-pill, Nora-BE®.  My hope is that it will help with the various symptoms I am experiencing – hives included – that may or may not be part of psoriatic arthritis.

Unfortunately, while I am hopeful that this will help, Somers’ book reminds me that this may not be right way to go about this.  For one thing, I haven’t had any hormone level testing.  I was hoping to do that before beginning any sort of hormone therapy.  I would like to know what my own hormone portrait is without contamination from a hormone pill.  In taking one last night, I have, at least for the time being, ruled out that possibility.  At least I think so.  The fact that this pill’s instructions are extremely strict about ingesting it at the exact same time of day every day suggests that maybe I could get accurate level readings by simply not taking it for a day or two.  Knowing my own hormone levels is important for both future potential HRT and for understanding my bodies hormone cocktail needs now.  Every woman is different, and taking a pill like Nora-BE® without investigating hormone levels ignores that reality.  If it works, great.  If it doesn’t work, it won’t mean that the hormones aren’t part of the solution to my issues.  In that event, it may be that the hormone was the right one to modify, but that the dosage was wrong.

A second indicator that this might not be the best way to go about this is the fact that Nora-BE® is probably not a bioidentical hormone.  Therefore, if it doesn’t work, it may be because my body couldn’t utilize it properly.  I am, after all, trying to trick my body.  It stands to reason that my trickery should be as convincing as possible, and how can it be if I am not using a bioidentical hormone?

I have asked for hormone testing repeatedly.  It hasn’t happened, I believe, in part because the doctors I have seen don’t deal with hormones very much at all.  It is outside the scope of their usual practice.  Somers described this problem at some length in the book.  I also suspect, particularly after reviewing part of my EOB for my health insurance, that my insurance would not cover such testing and that this makes doctors unwilling to prescribe it.

With all of the current public discussion about health care reform, I wonder — where is individuality in it all? Yes, we must ensure that everyone has access to health care, first and foremost. But let’s be real here. That is only part of the solution. For people to reach their full potential in personal, professional, and societal terms, they need access to health care that treats them as individuals with specific individual needs. Modern Western healthcare ignores the personal and the individual in favor of the standard and homogenous. In many cases, that does a disservice to the patient.

Finding Somers’ book on my table again was bittersweet because it has reminded me that I am taking the easiest, most cost-effective course of action and that may not be the most effective one.  Unfortunately, this is the road I am on.  I know I am on it in part because I want some immediate results and do not currently have the time, energy, and money to try to force my way onto a more appropriate road even if that road might have better results. It is depressing but true.

While this post is not strictly a review, I feel I should note that I recommend The Sexy Years to anyone with an interest in knowing more about sexuality, hormones, and HRT. I would also like to point out that it is not just a book for women. There is a lot in there for men to learn in terms of themselves and their partners. It is also not just a book for people who are already in menopause or andropause. Don’t make the same mistake I initially did; don’t discount this book because of Somers’ image in your mind.  I am glad I was led to this book and I hope I will eventually find the time to finish it and to apply her advice to action in my own life and health.

Musings on hormones and health insurance

Bisphenol-A, a scary compound that has already contaminated us all

There has been increased press of late about Bisphenol-A, or BPA, and its potential effects on humans. While this compound has been in commercial use for more than 50 years, and it has been suspected of being hazardous to humans since at least the 1930s, it continues to be in pervasive use in food storage containers and leaches into our food and water. BPA was initially studied only in mega doses and those mega doses were found to be relatively safe. The new focus is on small doses like the ones we get when we drink a soda, eat canned soup or vegetables, or use reusable plastic water bottles. BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor and can mimic estrogen in your body. This has the potential to impact us in huge ways.

Some studies have found links to BPA levels and miscarriage in women. Others have found that pre- and postnatal exposure (in the womb and through baby bottles) can cause hyperactivity in children. Hormones are critical to our growth, development, and fertility. Exposure to excess amounts of hormones or their mimics can drastically alter normal growth and development. This is particularly true of developing fetuses and children who are naturally more sensitive to hormones than adults.

No one can say with certainty that BPA is not the cause of frightening trends in our health and well being. No one can say with certainty that it is not part of the cause of rising infertility rates. Prostate cancer, breast cancer, and early puberty are all likely candidates when looking for BPA’s effects. And what about autism? I don’t think that can be crossed off of the list either without extensive study.

The food industry has a lot to lose if BPA is declared unsafe. The EPA continues to base their rulings with regard to BPA on data that is 20-30 years old. Although some progress is being made, we have a long way to go before BPA stops leaching into our food and water.

Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco/North Bay) authored a bill (S.B. 1713) that would have removed from shelves all BPA containing products intended for children under the age 7. Unfortunately, that bill was defeated (31 ayes, 36 noes) in August. While that bill had its own flaws, it would have been a start at reducing our children’s exposure to this chemical.

As a nation, we consume vast quantities of bottled water. My office is one of thousands if not millions that provides a water cooler for its employees’ use. It is cool, refreshing, and convenient. The majority of my water intake each day comes from that cooler. The rest comes from a crock at home. Both use the big 5 gallon plastic jugs common to large water distributors such as Arrowhead and Sparkletts. Unfortunately, I just checked the number on the bottom of the Arrowhead bottle on my office cooler. Sure enough, it says that it is a #7 recyclable plastic, or polycarbonate. Polycarbonate leaches BPA. It does so at room temperature. It also does so continuously, so the longer something is stored in a polycarbonate bottle, the more BPA has been released into it. Furthermore, the amount of BPA released by a polycarbonate bottle increases as the bottle ages and as it becomes exposed to other chemicals such as cleansers. I do not know how Arrowhead cleans their big water bottles, but I am willing to bet that it involves sterilization through a combination of heat and chemicals. These processes can increase the amount of BPA that the bottles leach. So can scratches and other damage to the bottles. I also do not know how often the bottles get replaced. This is disturbing to me. In my attempts to drink more water and be more healthy, have I been feeding myself increased does of BPA? I certainly have.

I can’t wait to find out what the bottles at home say on them. They are likely the same. All of the water we use in cooking comes from those bottles. All of the water that is drunk by the humans and animals in my house comes from those bottles. And all of it is likely laced with BPA. On the bright side, it looks like I can replace the bottles at home with polyethylene bottles which are safer. Sadly, I can’t replace the one at the office. And that is where I drink most of my water.

This is frustrating because I do not see doing nothing as an option.

If you want to read more, you may find this article from The Green Guide interesting.

This article from GreenerPenny has some good information about alternatives to #7 and #3 plastics.

I have read some of the journal articles that all of this is based on too, but I don’t have those citations handy at the moment.  Sorry!

Bisphenol-A, a scary compound that has already contaminated us all