Do You Know Nutrition: Avoid exposure to BPA whenever possible

By Phylis Canion
Feb. 4, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

Is BPA the white lining in canned foods? If so, how dangerous is this?

A few facts first: About 85 percent of canned foods sold in the U.S., even those containing organic food, are lined with a plastic coating that contains the chemical known as bisphenol A or BPA.

BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. The National Toxicology Program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says it has "some concern" about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.

The level of concern is midway on its five-level scale. The Food and Drug Administration now shares the same level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply in the U.S.

The problem is that BPA is also a synthetic estrogen, and plastics with BPA can break down, especially when heated, washed or stressed, allowing the chemical to leach into food and water and then enter the human body.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that BPA was found in the urine of 93 percent of surveyed Americans older than 6.

In September 2010, Canada and the European Union declared BPA toxic and began banning the product - the first product it banned the use of BPA in - baby bottles. The acidity of a container's contents and the age and condition of the polycarbonate (the BPA lining) affects how much of the chemical leaches into the food.

If you must buy a canned product, avoid those cans that are dented. It is important to look for products that state they are BPA-free. Stainless steel containers do not contain BPA, however, polycarbonate plastics that are hard clear lightweight plastic and has the number three, six or seven on the bottom inside the triangle indicates it contains BPA.

Now, for the dangers: In studies conducted in England, France, China and the U.S., BPA appears to cause early puberty in girls. BPA is connected to obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Infant development can be damaged by BPA exposure, and BPA has been linked to cancer.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is recommending that consumers reduce or eliminate their current exposure levels by avoiding certain plastic containers and opt for glass, porcelain and stainless steel.

Thought for the week: The six most important words: I admit I made a mistake.

The next free nutrition class is 7 p.m. Feb. 10, at Organic Emporium.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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