The internet is full of bogus health claims masquerading as fact and it's hard to blame folks when they take this information as absolute truth. For instance, the NIAID, CDC, and WHO couldn't make up their minds at the beginning of COVID when it came to the efficacy of masks in protecting individuals from the spread of the coronavirus.
So it's understandable why folks are dubious of any type of health claim that's circulating the internet when folks feel like they can't even trust data being distributed by official channels, like the United States government.
But is there any merit to the TikTok claim that holding/interacting with paper receipts can be bad for your health?
Dr. Erin Carter went viral on TikTok after stating that this could very well be the case. She says in the clip: "One simple thing you can start doing today to greatly improve your health that no one's told you before." Carter introduces herself as a rheumatologist and says that the "one simple thing" folks can do to improve their health is: "to stop handling receipts.
She explains why: "Yes, the receipts that you get at grocery stores, at department stores those types of things. And the reason is that most types of receipt paper are coated in BPA. And now you probably heard of BPA before. It was taken out of water bottles and baby bottles many years ago because of its known health effects."
Apparently, receipt paper still contains BPA, a chemical that has been used in various products since the 1950s. Dr. Carter went on: "If you aren't familiar with BPA, it is a known hormone disruptor, and it's known to cause many negative health effects including decreased sperm quality, infertility, obesity, thyroid problems, liver problems, kidney problems... there's a huge, long list."
It makes sense that we would want to try to limit our exposure to this chemical if Dr. Carter is correct. And while BPA has been removed from many products, it's still used in other industries.
She goes on to say that companies are just slightly "tweaking" the formula of BPAs but are still implementing the chemical in their products.
"But when it comes to receipt paper, multiple studies have shown that simply handling receipts greatly increases the level of BPA in your bloodstream and the amount that's excreted in your urine. And it's actually felt by many experts that it's actually worse to get the BPA through dermal or skin exposure than by eating the same amount orally."
She says that ingesting it allows your liver to metabolize it, but skin contact doesn't provide that same level of protection. "So if you have the option of not getting a receipt I would take that option. If you are someone who works with receipts, try to use gloves, also the absorption of BPA from receipts is greatly increased if you've just put hand sanitizer or lotion on your hands."
"So try to avoid doing that, and if you've just handled a receipt, make sure you wash your hands before you go and ingest something or eat something because the BPA will actually transfer to what you're eating as well."
Dr. Erin Carter shows several screenshots of other reports that dissuade individuals from handling receipt paper, but is this another example of an alarmist medical professional on TikTok attempting to cash in on hypochondria clicks? It doesn't look like it.
ABC 15 consulted with Dr. Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH, who says there's truth to the claim that handling paper receipts is potentially bad for one's health.
"That one actually happens to have truth to it." Not all receipts have BPAs in them, but there's an easy way to check," he said.
The doctor suggests scratching the receipt with a coin. If it leaves an "ink-like mark," then it's got the BPA chemical in it. Obviously, consult with a doctor if you're worried you may have been overly exposed to BPAs or that they might be the culprit behind any health woes you may be experiencing.