The Centre for Environmental Health (CEH), California has stated that several sports bras and athletic shirts have been found to have high levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in them.
By Dr. Himabindu Annamraju
The structure of the female breast is complex consisting of fat, glandular and connective tissue. The female breasts undergo several changes during one’s lifetime. Most of these changes are hormonal, whether it is during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, lactation or even age-related changes. It is advisable for women to wear bras as they offer support to the breasts and shoulders, as well as improve comfort and posture.
Different types of bras are available in the market, with a popular variety being the sports bra. These are specially designed to handle movement and provide maximum support, along with reducing strain on the shoulders and back. Special materials used in the manufacturing of the sports bras absorb sweat and keep the skin dry. Even though the sports bra is intended for use during sports or physical activity only, an increasing number of women are choosing to wear these regularly due to the comfort offered.
The Centre for Environmental Health (CEH), California has recently issued a press release stating that several sports bras and athletic shirts have been found to have high levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in them. It has also sent legal notices to 8 brands of sports bras and 6 brands of athletic shirts after testing showed the clothing could expose individuals to up to 22 times the safe limit of BPA.
It is a well-known fact that BPA is a chemical that is used in the manufacturing of plastic and is found in a number of consumer products like plastic bottles, drinking cups, food cans etc. BPA works as a hormone disrupting chemical that mimics estrogen and can disrupt the normal functioning of the body. Even low levels of exposure during pregnancy have been associated with a variety of health problems in offspring, such as effects on the prostate gland, abnormal development of the mammary glands and ovaries that can increase the likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer later in life, possible health effects on the brain and child’s behaviour. Additionally, BPA has been linked to various harmful health effects including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma for young girls, effects on male and female fertility, and even premature death.
Studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed through skin and end up in the bloodstream after handling receipt paper for seconds or a few minutes at a time. CEH has expressed concern over the high levels of BPA in the clothing, especially as sports bras and athletic shirts are worn for hours at a time, and you are meant to sweat in them.
It is very difficult to avoid BPA completely, as it is present in so many products. However, awareness is the first step and it is advisable to try to use BPA-free products to eat, drink and store food in non-plastic containers. For clothing the best option would be to limit the time spent in activewear, and to change immediately after workout. Likewise, look for natural fibres like 100% cotton, linen or wool, and avoid synthetic fibres like polyester and spandex.
This article was published in association with Rainbow Children’s Hospital.
Dr. HIMABINDU ANNAMRAJU, MBBS, MRCOG (UK) CCT (UK)
Consultant Obstetrician, Gynecologist & Laparoscopic Surgeon, Specialist in High Risk Pregnancy
Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Kondapur, Hyderabad
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