Harmful BPA found in canned foods

Published on November 24, 2011 at 4:27 PM · No Comments

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

According to a new study canned foods may contain harmful chemical Bisphenol A or BPA. BPA is a common chemical used in plastic products and in the lining of cans. BPA keeps them from corroding, but it may also be creeping into the food.

The finding comes from researchers at Harvard who compared 75 participants who ate one 12oz can of soup for five straight days or fresh soup. The findings showed that there was a massive increase in the level of BPA in urine of the people who ate the canned soup. But after two days without canned soup their BPA levels were back down to normal.

“We've known for a while that drinking beverages that have been stored in certain hard plastics can increase the amount of BPA in your body,” study author Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a written statement. “This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use.” As study author Karin Michels, associate professor in the school's department of epidemiology, put it in the statement, “It may be advisable for manufacturers to consider eliminating BPA from can linings.”

Urvashi Rangan, with Consumers Union, said, “Consumers cannot tell how much BPA may have gotten into the food in any canned food item that they pick up, and the story here is, you don't know, and you can't know.”

An estimated 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, but doctors still don't know what the effects are in humans. In 2009, the leading baby bottle manufacturers said they would stop selling bottles in the U.S. that were made with BPA over concerns about the risks to infants.

And according to the study a long term, low-dose, exposure of the chemical could lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes or obesity. “You disturb the endocrine hormones including the thyroid and you tend to go to obesity.  And we have an epidemic of obesity what are the causes multiple causes,” said Bruce Homstead M.S., a licensed nutritionist of the risks involved after consuming BPA. “Certain ingredients are far more active than others, so it could take you 20 years of being exposed to BPA to insight your cancer or your reproductive hormone problem,” said Homstead.

Industry groups argued that BPA in urine doesn't indicate a health risk. The National Institutes of Health has embarked upon a $30 million research to look into the potential health effects of BPA exposure. For now, doctors say the best way to protect oneself is to eat more fresh or frozen food.

The study was published online Nov. 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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