Nuke your food in plastic and you could be dropping a bomb on your health.
Toxic chemicals from such containers leech into food when heated — and can cause insulin resistance and elevated blood pressure, two harbingers for diabetes.
The chemicals enter the body even when not heated, but at much smaller doses, says lead author Dr. Leonardo Transande, a professor at NYU Langone.
“Heating enhances contamination,” he told the Daily News.
Trasande and his team studied two phthalates — compounds in plastics — that were introduced over the last 10 years after a similar compound was found to be dangerous.
The two replacement chemicals weren’t all that better, according to researchers, who found a “significant association” between high blood pressure and the chemicals.
An earlier study from May found a link between the chemicals and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes in which the body can’t use the hormone it makes.
Even just a little exposure to phthalates was worrisome because it can have “lifelong effects,” Trasande said.
To lower your risk, don’t heat plastic containers and plastic wrap in the microwave, and don’t put plastic containers in the dishwasher. Also, avoid drinking from plastic bottles that have the number 3, 6 or 7 stamped on the bottom — a sign that the bottles have questionable chemicals in them.
In addition, toss any containers that are edged or scarred from overuse. That means their protective layers are worn out and “suggests a higher leeching,” Trasande said.
Previous research has called phthalates’ safety into question, but they’ve never been proven to have a direct adverse effect on health. BPA is another common chemical that’s rumored to be dangerous, but it is in a different chemical class.
Federal law does not require chemicals to be tested before they’re used on large populations.
“(There are) ongoing flaws to the regulatory framework (that) chemicals are innocent until proven guilty,” said Trasande.
The study builds on previous research linking environmental toxins to metabolic conditions. Behind diet and exercise, “mounting evidence suggest chemicals may represent a substantial third factor” in our nation’s obesity crisis, Trasande said.