In the first publication, it was established that there's growing evidence that food can be contaminated by harmful chemicals from some types of plastic. 

Many foods are packaged in these risky plastics – including fresh meat, gourmet cheese, and even some health foods and organic vegetables.

What’s Lurking in Your Plastic Containers?

Depending on what product you’re using, your plastic might contain phthalates, for starters. Phthalates are a group of "gender-bending" chemicals causing males of many species to become more female - (Yes, you read right - it transforms you from inside out).

These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts, and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales, and otters, just to name a few.

In humans, phthalates have been linked to preterm birth and neurobehavioral problems in infants after in-utero exposure. They’ve also been found to increase blood pressure levels, and high urinary levels are associated with insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

Plastic containers may also contain bisphenol-A (BPA) or any one of its similar “replacement” chemicals, including BPS (there’s also Bisphenol B, C, E, F, G, M. P, PH, TMC, and Z). 

While the replacement chemicals haven’t been widely studied, BPA is a known endocrine disruptor that’s been linked to a number of health concerns, particularly in pregnant women, fetuses, and young children, but also in adults, including:

- Structural damage to your brain

- Changes in gender-specific behavior and abnormal sexual behavior

- Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning

- Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian dysfunction, and infertility

- Increased fat formation and risk of obesity

- Stimulation of prostate cancer cells

- Altered immune function

- Increased prostate size and decreased sperm production

What else might be lurking in your plastic? Commercial-grade cling wrap (which may be used to wrap cheese or other deli items) may be made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is known to cause cancer. The manufacture of PVC also leads to the formation of dioxin, another carcinogen.

Also read: How Dangerous Is Plastic Packaged Food And Beverage? (I)

Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?

Microwave has become part of our daily life. In fact, a microwave is arguably found in one out every 20 houses in Nigeria.

On the implications of using microwave to heat up plastic foods, Dr Nwosu has this to say.

"Let's cover the original misinformation first: The earliest missives warned that microwaved plastic releases cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins into food. The problem with that warning is that plastics don't contain dioxins. They are created when garbage, plastics, metals, wood, and other materials are burned. As long as you don't burn your food in a microwave, you aren't exposing yourself to dioxins.

Migrating chemicals

"There's no single substance called "plastic." That term covers many materials made from an array of organic and inorganic compounds. Substances are often added to plastic to help shape or stabilize it. Two of these plasticizers are bisphenol-A (BPA), added to make clear, hard plastic phthalates, added to make plastic soft and flexible BPA and phthalates are believed to be "endocrine disrupters."

These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.

"When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. Any migration is likely to be greater with fatty foods such as meats and cheeses than with other foods.

"When Good Housekeeping microwaved food in 31 plastic containers, lids, and wraps, it found that almost none of the food contained plastic additives.

"Phthalate chemicals are generally used to make plastic soft, for example in credit cards or plastic shower curtains. A study of nearly 3,000 children in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children between the ages of 6 and 19 who had been exposed to phthalates (measured by levels of breakdown products of the chemicals in their urine) had higher levels of blood pressure than those who didn't.

"Phthalates leach into food through packaging so you should avoid microwaving food or drinks in plastic and not use plastic cling wrap and store your food in glass containers where possible. If you can avoid pre-packaged, processed food then you are not only a terrific human being but you will reduce your exposure.

"Our government has to do more in enlightening people on some of these dangers associated with cancer. We as individuals have to also do more in terms of seeking more information about our health. The internet is a good source of information. 

"You are the first doctor for your health". If you notice anything strange in your body like itching, swelling, blood in the urine or faeces, quickly talk to your doctor. This simple step could be the difference between life and death for a lot of people" he added.

Health they say is wealth. Don't let what you eat eventually kill you.