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One Major Side Effect of Drinking From a Plastic Bottle, Says Science

If you need one more reason to cut down on your plastic use, how's this: It may be damaging your health.

In a large part of the world, rising temps mean it's that time of the year when it's important to stay hydrated. However, as a new analysis reveals, making sure you're getting enough fluids is only one part of keeping yourself healthy this summer. The type of container you choose to drink from is another key consideration.

Sometimes, it's tough to avoid: Especially during outdoor parties and picnic season, it's just easy to grab a convenient plastic bottle out of the cooler, fridge, or that tight-wrapped case water bottles usually come in. But, while you already know the long-term effects of that single plastic container once it lands in the trash, it may also be doing damage to your body.

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According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a human consumes 44 pounds of plastic throughout the course of their lifetime. Of course, no sound individual is actually eating plastic… except, you are. Microplastics are the tiny microparticles that plastic products break down into. As scientists continue to examine the presence of microplastics from the things we consume (which often end up in our food from the packaging they come in—like plastic bottles), it's growing more evident that since plastic—which, you might forget, is a synthetic material constructed of chemicals—doesn't break down in a natural way like other materials (such as paper or even glass), we wind up consuming these tiny, man-made microparticles that then exist in our bodies.

Plastic water bottles, in particular, may contain the most plastic of any beverage, according to information from the World Health Organization and the nonprofit journalism organization Orb Media, which was reported by Business Insider in 2019. "These little plastic bits—many thinner than a human hair—are ubiquitous," Business Insider expained, stating that a bottled water drinker consumes an average of 10.4 plastic particles within every bottle.

Recent reports out of Harvard, Chicago's School of Public Health, and other medical science institutions have also found that certain chemicals found in plastic, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (which you may often hear called "BPA"), can act as toxins within the body that are associated with certain cancers, such as breast cancer and liver cancer. (Note that the Harvard article we referenced speaks specifically to when plastic containers are heated in the microwave.) Research on the effect of consuming chemicals from plastic continues, but as you go to reach for that water bottle… is it even worth the risk?

As the summer season moves in, it may be worth taking a far more refreshing approach: Carry your own non-plastic container filled with water to whatever destination or gathering you're going to. One big bonus: This is also a solid way to ensure you're sipping safely from a vessel that's actually yours (since it's fair to say we've all grown more aware of how easy it is to spread germs and infections).

For more, don't miss One Major Side Effect of Drinking From a Can, New Study Says, and keep reading:

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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