Microwaving food in plastic containers? You may turn infertile

New Delhi: If you also are amongst those who heat their food in plastic containers in a microwave, you might have to reconsider it. This could put you at a higher risk of infertility, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, scientists have warned. In fact, this practice is also known to cause cancer plastic releases harmful chemicals, which have been linked to carcinogens. Microwaving food in plastic containers makes it release 95 percent of all its chemical components.

Scientists have found that heating food in plastic containers in a microwave oven can cause damage to the brain functioning. Plastic is not a single substance, it is an amalgamation of various compounds. Many chemical compounds are added to the plastic to give it a shape or stability.  Plastic is not a single substance, it is an amalgamation of various compounds. Many chemical compounds are added to the plastic to give it a shape or stability.

The compounds that are added to plastic for this purpose are:

  • Bisphenol-A, that is used to make plastic hard, and
  • Phthalates, that are added to plastic to get softness and malleable

BPA and phthalates are known to cause disruptions and altercations in the endocrine system, that are surely hazardous to the health. So, when food is packed in plastic or microwaved in a plastic container, there are chances of BPA and phthalates mingling with your food.

“The most hazardous chemicals in plastic containers are bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, and phthalate. The BPA we ingest gets into our bloodstream and may lead to a series of problems like infertility, hormonal changes, changes in gender traits and even different types of cancers. They also have side effects on animals causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts, and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales, and others,” said Dr Nitasha Gupta, IVF expert, Indira IVF Hospital, New Delhi.

Regular monitoring by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a high level of exposure to BPA as more than 90 percent of the general population has detectable level of bisphenol A in their bodies. Plastic has other carcinogens as well including PVC, dioxin, and styrene, all of which are linked to cancer.

“The disturbing truth is that heat transfers the chemicals in plastic very effectively into your food. When the food is heated, the food touching the plastic receives the chemicals leaching out. Eating those chemicals can increase risks of cancer, infertility and havoc on the normal functioning of reproductive systems and your brain,” she added.

One study released by the American society of reproductive health suggests that BPA inhibits embryo implantation as well, and hence it is linked to higher level of in vitro-fertilisation failure and may also lead to recurrent miscarriages. Furthermore, a report from FDA states that chemicals, mostly BPA, adversely affects both male and female fertility.

How to reduce health risks and tips for reheating food in a microwave

Health experts suggest that we should try and minimise the use of plastic as much as possible and pack food in glass containers instead. The FDA recommends using glass, ceramic, and plastic containers labeled for microwave oven use. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind before or while using the microwave:

  • Do not let any plastic wrap come in contact with your food while microwaving as they are prone to melting.
  • If you are using plastic in the microwave, keep it in mind to opt for the ones specially manufactured for use in the microwave.
  • Discard the microwave-safe takeout dinner trays after a single use.
  • Don’t use old or broken plastic containers in the microwave even if they claim to be microwave safe. They are more likely to emit hazardous chemicals into your food.
  • Always uncover the lid or keep it ajar of the container before microwaving the food.

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