Old wives tales: Consuming food stored in plastic containers can make men infertile.

In 1998, during my Obstetrics and Gynaecology placement in the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast I learnt two very important facts that I still share with my patients:

1) Women who take the combined oral contraceptive pill are less likely to develop ovarian and endometrial cancer and

2) Men who have trouble conceiving should avoid eating food or drink stored or wrapped in plastic.

Growing-up, my mother, the barer of bad news on all things food related was a firm believer that cling-film (or 'glad wrap' as its called in my husband’s homeland), leached chemicals into the food it came into contact with; so cling film never entered our house.


But I didn’t know that some of these chemicals were like Oestrogen, the female sex hormone which if ingested by men is bad news for sperm…

I also remember hearing a lady in a coffee shop opposite the Royal Brisbane hospital, tell the server that she really didn't want the muffin microwaved in cling film, " Cling-film is bad enough, but microwaving it in cling-film- are you trying to kill me?!", she said in disbelief to the embarrassed server.  That was 2003.

Some years later I noticed that the outdoor shops were selling plastic water bottles made without BPA, which was apparently safer and didn’t leak these hormone chemicals. Unfortunately, this is not always true.

There are many studies showing that a lot of BPA free plastics still leach oestrogen chemicals. And that this leaching process is increased by microwaving, heating, and UV light.

Recently, I’m guilty of microwaving our daughter’s milk in a plastic bottle, which, although BPA free, could be leaching chemicals into the milk.

It’s a wake-up call for me writing this blog. Sleep deprivation and laziness are no excuse for taking shorts cuts when it comes to my kids’ health!

Here a link to a study from 2014 that’s worth a read: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24886603

You’ll see that there are some safe Bisphenol-A (BPA) free plastics. These contain Poly Carbonate replacement products made from:

  • Glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate or

  • Cyclic olefin polymer or

  • Co-polymer resins 

Not the most memorable words!

So, the devil’s in the detail and I’m not sure if BPA products have an ingredients list or different classes. I’ll do some research into the UK and European Law on Plastics.

In the meantime for me, the safer alternative to use:

  • Stainless steel water bottles and

  • Stainless steel baby milk bottles- yes they exist; And

  • Ceramic dishes for food storage.

All food for thought.