Cancer-Causing Compound Linked to Canned Food

A recent study has found that eating canned food daily can cause a dramatic spike in bodily levels of BPA, or Bisphenol A, a compound that has been linked to breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and reproductive abnormalities.

Harvard University researchers studied 75 people. Participants ate either a 12-ounce serving of canned or fresh soup per day for five days straight. After a two-day interval in which neither was eaten, the groups switched and ate the opposite soup for another five days.

The researchers found that by the fifth day, the levels of BPA in the urine samples of those who ate the canned soup had increased a whopping 1,221 percent.

The study was published in the Nov. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Previous studies have linked elevated BPA levels with adverse health effects," said lead author Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The next step was to figure out how people are getting exposed to BPA. 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. This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use."

BPA is used in the production of plastics and epoxy resins, which are used as lacquers to coat food cans and other metal products such as bottle tops and water supply pipes. While studies have not found any indication that low levels of BPA are harmful to adults, it is believed that they are potentially hazardous to children and could affect brain development.

BPA is found in a number of food and beverage containers and often leaches into the food, particularly at high temperatures.

"The magnitude of the rise in urinary BPA we observed after just one serving of soup was unexpected and may be of concern among individuals who regularly consume foods from cans or drink several canned beverages daily," said co-author of the study, Professor Karin Michels. "It may be advisable for manufacturers to consider eliminating BPA from can linings."