Why is it important to reduce plastic? For environmental pollution, of course, but also for our health. In fact, very recent scientific research has observed that some substances associated with plastic, once they enter the body, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and raise cholesterol levels. The study is available online and was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives thanks to a team from the University of California, Riverside (Sui et al, EHP, Dec 2021).
The plastic problem
Plastic food containers may not just be simple wrappers but, in some cases, they can create a health problem. In fact, some substances contained in plastic, once it comes into contact with food, can migrate to the food and from there then enter the body, where they can affect hormones and cholesterol. An example is a phthalate, called DCHP, used as a plasticizer in PVC. At present, this substance is under observation by the American Environmental Protection Agency as it is considered a substance with a potential risk. Precisely to understand the action of DCHP on health, the researchers developed the study we are talking about today.
Phthalates raise cholesterol, a study
The study took place on animals. What has emerged is that, when exposed to the substance DCHP, a chain reaction is triggered in the body. In particular, DCHP binds in the gut to a receptor, called PXR, which, when activated, stimulates the release of key proteins for the absorption and transport of cholesterol. As a result, cholesterol values were also high in the animal population with high DCHP levels. Not only that, exposure to DCHP was also associated with an increase in some circulating ceramides, a class of lipids associated with a high cardiovascular risk.
We need to pay attention
Of course, we cannot have full control over everything, but we can certainly take some precautions to limit the intake of phthalates. For example, we can avoid wrapping food in transparent films or we can choose those products with the label, It does not contain phthalates.