A new study has found that BPA (bisphenol A) —the nasty chemical that I’ve been warning you about for YEARS now—is affecting us at much lower doses than previously thought.  Well, I should say at lower doses than the mainstream drones thought.

In case you’re not familiar with BPA… or it’s potentially devastating side effects… let me bring you up to speed with a recap.

When you open up that can of cranberry sauce today to serve with Thanksgiving dinner you’ll be serving up more than just those jellied cranberries. It will come with an unwanted side dish of a creepy chemical that’s used to make plastics called bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA wreaks havoc with your hormones

BPA is found in all kinds of plastic materials including water bottles, cash register receipts, and even the inside lining of food cans. It’s what’s known as an endocrine disruptor and it can wreak havoc with your hormones. Even worse, your body has a heck of a time telling BPA apart from estrogen. As you can imagine, this dual disaster can really do a number on your health, kicking off all kinds of unwanted side effects.

And the higher the BPA exposure, the greater the hormone disruption is. With most US adults getting conservatively nearly 5 micrograms a day, and our friends elsewhere getting even more than that, it’s a catastrophe that hasn’t been waiting to happen.

Men exposed to high levels of the chemical may have significant erectile dysfunction issues as a result. (Learn how BPA could result in ED on the NorthStar blog.) And for women, excess estrogen in the bloodstream is a big risk factor when it comes to breast cancer.

Creepy chemical drives up your disease risks

We’ve known for a long time now that high BPA levels in the body are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. One Yale study linked the chemical to neurological problems in animals, and found a connection between BPA and disruptions in brain cells linked to memory, learning and mood. And some scientists suspect that the chemical may be playing a key role in the obesity epidemic as well as the troubling turn towards early puberty for young girls.

In other words, BPA is nothing but bad news.

And yet the yahoos at the FDA refuse to admit that the chemical is even a significant threat.  In fact, beyond finally banning it in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 (a good, but FAR too late move), the Big Business loving Feds haven’t done a darn thing to protect you from this chemical. According to them, the levels that we’re being exposed to aren’t enough to worry about.

And if you believe that one I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Low doses still equal HIGH dangers

That’s why this new research, published in the journal Endocrine Disruptors, is so important. Sure, we already know this stuff is bad for us, but with the FDA burying its collective head somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine, we need as many studies as we can get showing that even at so-called “low” exposures BPA is damaging.

A group of scientists that study endocrine disruption set out to build on and refine an earlier 2007 review of the low-dose effects of BPA. What they found was shocking. They were able to confirm reproductive effects in animals after exposure to incredibly low doses of the chemical. We’re talking ten to forty times lower than in the typical studies that have been used to justify keeping BPA on the market.

In addition, the researchers identified several dozen “low dose” studies that illustrated the effects that BPA has in amounts that people are being exposed to every single day. In fact, according to the scientists, exposure to BPA likely contributes to a wide variety of health issues including decreased fertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, behavioral problems, breast tumors, obesity, thyroid dysfunction, brain synapse issues and immune response to allergens.

And the problems don’t even end with the human population, either. Scientists say that BPA’s effect on wildlife is widespread, too.

The bottom line here is that, once again, the very agencies that supposedly exist to protect our health can’t be relied on. We have to fend for ourselves. That means switching to brands that are packaged in non-BPA packaging (stores that specialize in natural and organic foods and online sources are your best bets) and choosing fresh organic foods over packaged ones whenever possible.

And make your voice heard. Write the manufacturers of your favorite brands and demand BPA-free packaging and write your representatives in Washington and demand legislation that removes this toxic chemical from our food supply.

Maybe by next year on this day we’ll have one more thing to give thanks for… a BPA-free life.