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Stanford University School of Medicine

Clear connection between canned food consumption and BPA exposure

rows of cans

The supermarket cans that hold canned peaches, soups, peas, or other foods are nearly always lined with a thin layer of plastic to prevent foods from picking up a metallic flavor from the can. But that plastic lining contains a chemical called BPA, known to raise blood pressure and increase one's risk of obesity and suspected of interfering with the way our hormones work.

Now, Jennifer Hartle, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher with the medical school's Stanford Prevention Research Center, has demonstrated a definite link between eating canned foods and physiological levels of BPA, which imitates one form of the hormone estrogen.

In a study appearing in Environmental Research, Hartle and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University reviewed what more than 7,600 people had eaten in the previous 24 hours and compared that to levels of BPA in their urine. Those few who had eaten one or two canned food items in the previous 24 hours had 24 percent and 54 percent higher levels of BPA in their urine, respectively, than those who had eaten no canned food.

A Stanford News story from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, which has supported Hartle’s work, reports:

Hartle and her colleagues found that canned food was associated with higher urinary BPA concentrations, and the more canned food consumed, the higher the BPA. The result confirms canned food’s outsized influence on exposure to BPA. The researchers also found that particular kinds of canned food were associated with higher urinary BPA concentrations. The worst offenders (in descending order): canned soup, canned pasta, and canned vegetables and fruit.

A previous study led by Hartle found that children, who are especially susceptible to hormone disruption from BPA, are at risk from school meals that often come from cans and other packaging. This uptick in packaging is a result of schools' efforts to streamline food preparation and meet federal nutrition standards while keeping costs low.

In the article, Hartle notes that the FDA has put restrictions on the use of BPA, and many food and beverage companies are moving away from its use. But "we do not know if synthetic BPA replacements are safe either.”

Previously: How much Bisphenol A is okay?  Packard Children’s physicians discuss new research linking higher urine BPA levels and child obesityCalifornia bans BPA in baby bottles and cups and Cutting out canned, packaged foods can reduce exposure to BPA
Photo by King of Hearts/Wikimedia

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