Apr 11, 2011

Canned Food linked to PBA

BPA levels in families who ate fresh rather than canned or plastic-packaged food for three days dropped by an average of 60 percent, according to a study released today by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute. Bishphenol A (or BPA), which is used to line food cans, has been linked to breast cancer, infertility, early puberty and other health problems.

The five families in the study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, avoided canned foods and drinks and meals prepared outside the home in lieu of freshly prepared organic meals in glass storage containers. During the three days that the families ate the fresh food, their BPA levels dropped on average by 60 percent. When families returned to their regular diets, their BPA levels climbed back to the higher levels.

The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute offer the following suggestions for reducing exposure to BPA and DEHP:
  • Cook at home with fresh foods
  • Avoid canned foods. (The Breast Cancer Fund found that BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty canned foods such as coconut milk, soup and vegetables.)
  • Choose glass and stainless steel food and beverage containers.
  • Never microwave anything in plastic. Use ceramic or glass instead.
  • Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.
  • Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).

Keeping BPA Out of Food and Beverages

In addition to the potential health risks, there are many more reasons to reduce your use of plastic food containers, dishes and cutlery. Plastics consume resources that are largely nonrenewable (crude oil and natural gas), their use contributes to needless waste, and their production and degradation create pollution. Here are a few BPA safety tips for food and drink.
  • Can the cans. “Canned foods are likely to be the highest contributor to BPA in our diets, not plastics,” says Vandenberg. Also, she says parents should buy powdered rather than liquid infant formula, because the former has less exposure to the BPA lining the can.
  • If you use plastic wrap, try to find one that doesn’t contain BPA. Vandenberg says the trouble is that companies are not required to tell you what’s in plastic wrap, adding, “Studies show that many stretch wraps contain BPA and other endocrine disruptors.”
  • Warm and store food in ceramic or glass containers. The label “microwave safe” on a plastic food container only means that the plastic won’t melt. If the product contains BPA, it will leach into your food faster when warm.
  • Make sure baby bottles, pacifiers and toys for infants and toddlers are BPA-free.
  • Avoid bottled water, especially in plastic bottles. According to Food & Water Watch, bottled water is more expensive and no safer than tap water. In fact, it is often bottled tap water.
  • Use metal or wooden utensils when you cook. Use wooden rather than plastic cutting boards, and clean thoroughly after use.
  • Bring your own, BPA-free containers for leftovers and take-away foods.
  • Recycle. Plastic containers and packaging are clogging our landfills and leaching endocrine disruptors into groundwater, plus marring the landscape and injuring wildlife.

How to Avoid Phthalates

Avoiding phthalates is challenging because manufacturers aren’t required to list them as product ingredients.
  • Look for “phthalate-free” on the label of personal care products (especially nail polish). For information on product ingredients, check the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
  • Use fragrance-free detergents, cleansers and personal care products. Artificial fragrances commonly use diethyl phthalate (DEP).
  • Avoid products made of vinyl plastic usually labelled as No. 3 (raincoats, shower curtains) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC pipe, other building materials, some lawn furniture, and some children’s and pets’ toys).

For additional tips or to download a shopper’s guide, visit www.breastcancerfund.org, and check out our guide to safer plastics and Natural Home & Garden’s Five Steps to Avoiding BPA.

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