Canned beans, canned soup, canned vegetables… these are healthy foods, right? Well, they might be in theory, but there is one major issue that almost no one knows about. There is a chemical called BPA (Bisphenol A) in canned food. BPA is a chemical found in the lining of canned foods. It is in most of the canned food items that we eat, exposing us to a harmful chemical that has far-reaching health effects. Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor – a substance which interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function and elimination of natural hormones. BPA can imitate our body’s own hormones in a way that could be hazardous to health. It can interrupt normal hormone balance, and lead to some serious health consequences. Furthermore, babies and young children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects of BPA, making it even more important to pay attention to where our food is coming from.
What does the Research Say? Is BPA actually harmful?
More than 200 lab animal tests to date strongly suggest that BPA exposure, even at very low doses, creates risks of dangerous developmental, neural and reproductive health effects. Exposure to BPA, even at low and short-term doses, is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including the following:
- Reproductive disorders – scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital showed that BPA exposure can affect egg maturation in humans.
- Breast cancer – A Yale School of Medicine study found a possible increase in breast cancer risk among females exposed to BPA and DES (Diethylstilbestrol) in the womb.
- Women’s eggs – Californian researchers found that exposure to bisphenol A may affect the quality of a woman’s eggs retrieved for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Male impotence – Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, California, reported in the journal Human Reproduction that BPA exposure may raise the risk of erectile dysfunction. Sexual desire and problems with ejaculation were also linked to BPA exposure among men.
- Sex hormones in men – an August 2010 study linked BPA exposure to changes in sex hormones in men.
- Heart disease (females) – BPA can cause heart disease in women, scientists at the University of Cincinnati found.
- Heart disease in adults – another US study linked BPA exposure to diabetes and heart disease in adults.
- Type 2 diabetes – A UK study linked higher levels of urinary BPA to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver-enzyme abnormalities.
- Brain function, memory, learning – US researchers linked BPA exposure to loss of connections between brain cells in primates, potential problems with memory and learning, as well as depression.
- Chemotherapy – University of Cincinnati scientists found that BPA exposure may reduce chemotherapy treatment efficacy.
- Asthma – A US study suggested a link between increasing asthma rates and a particular threshold of BPA.
- Obesity – In 2013, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute scientists who closely evaluated the urine BPA levels in 1,326 school-aged children from Shanghai linked BPA to obesity. They found that girls who had a higher urine BPA level were twice as likely to be obese than the average of the other children.
- Generational Impact – It was found that damage done from BPA can actually linger for generations, impacting an exposed person’s offspring and their kids and generations beyond.
As you can clearly see, BPA poses very real health risks. For that reason, it is imperative that we be mindful of our BPA exposure, and that can start with our canned food items. Even this small step can help make a difference in not only our personal health, but the future health of our children.
Where is BPA found? Just Canned Food?
Unfortunately not. BPA is found in a host of other food products and consumer products. BPA is used to make many products, including water bottles, baby bottles, dental fillings and sealants, dental devices, medical devices, eyeglass lenses, DVDs and CDs, household electronic and sports equipment. BPA is also found in thermal paper and carbonless paper. Examples of thermal paper commonly used are movie theater tickets, labels and airline tickets, and receipts. Experts say the problem is not absorption through the skin, much more likely transference from hands/fingers into the mouth (ingestion). So definitely ditch the receipt. Finally, one of the most pervasive sources of BPA exposure is plastic. It is in plastic water bottles, plastic Tupperware, plastic dinnerware, and plastic baby products. For that reason, switch to glass or stainless steel. To learn more about the danger of plastic water bottles, read the article Bottled, Filtered, or Tap Water? What’s the Healthiest?
How to Avoid BPA in Canned Foods
The good news is that there are food companies making canned food with BPA-free cans. So you don’t have to give up your favorite canned beans, soup and tomato sauce. Simply look for the BPA-free label on the can. Now I know this is an extra step when shopping, but it is an important one. Here is a list of companies that are making BPA-free canned food items:
- Eden Foods
- Wild Planet
- Muir Glen
- Westbrae Naturals
- Native Forest
These products can be found in most grocery stores, but if not, they can be purchased online as well. If there is a will then there is a way! Happy BPA-free Shopping!
Human Reproduction, Vol.28, No.10 pp. 2735–2745, 2013 Bisphenol-A and human oocyte maturation in vitro
Ronit Machtinger, Catherine M.H. Combelles, Stacey A. Missmer, Katharine F. Correia, Paige Williams, Russ Hauser, and Catherine Racowsky
Endocrine Society. University of Cincinnati. Bisphenol A (BPA) may be harmful for the heart, particularly in women.
Tamara Galloway, Riccardo Cipelli, Jack Guralnick, Luigi Ferrucci, Stefania Bandinelli, Anna Maria Corsi, Cathryn Money, Paul McCormack, David Melzer. Daily Bisphenol A Excretion and Associations with Sex Hormone Concentrations: Results from the InCHIANTI Adult Population Study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002367
Trasande L, Attina TM, Blustein J. Association Between Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration and Obesity Prevalence in Children and Adolescents. JAMA. 2012;308(11):1113-1121. doi:10.1001/2012.jama.11461
Bisphenol A prevents the synaptogenic response to estradiol in hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of ovariectomized nonhuman primates.” Csaba Leranth, Tibor Hajszan, Klara Szigeti-Buck, Jeremy Bober, and Neil J. MacLusky.PNAS published September 3, 2008.
Leo Doherty, Jason Bromer, Yuping Zhou and Tamir Aldad. Citation: Hormones and Cancer doi: 10.1007/s12672-010-0015-9
Bisphenol A linked to asthma – study By Rory Harrington, 02-Mar-2010 Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure at certain doses has been linked to increasing rates of asthma, according to new research.