This Thanksgiving, thousands of canned food products will be pried open, dumped onto fancy platters, and served alongside the holiday bird. But before you dig into that tempting side of sweet corn, candied yams, or turkey gravy, know the potential health risks.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the by-product of epoxy resins used to coat the inside of many metal-based food and beverage cans.
In the past, both the National Toxicology Program and the FDA have expressed concerns about the potential health risks of BPA exposure, including the compound’s effects on the “brain, behaviour, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.” According to The Atlantic’s Hans Villarica, the industrial chemical has also been linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
In 2010, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health attempted to find out if eating soup from metal cans increased BPA levels. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, divided 75 volunteers into two groups. One group was fed soup made with fresh ingredients for five days, while the other was served canned soup. The groups switched eating assignments after a two-day break of eating no canned soup.
Urine samples provided by participants after each eating period showed that eating 1 serving of canned soup once a day for 5 days was linked to more than 1000% increase in urinary BPA.
The study didn’t look at the health effects of increased BPA concentrations or if levels sustained themselves after participants stopped eating canned soup. But the key takeaway is that canned soup consumption led to an observed spike in BPA concentrations, a chemical that may be dangerous to human health.
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