Study: Canned soup raises body's BPA levels


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NEW YORK CITY — There's new research about a chemical called BPA, which some studies have linked to a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Not long ago, researchers raised concerns over BPA in some hard plastic water bottles. Now a new study raises concerns about the chemical in canned foods.

Iris Williams tries hard to make healthy food for her family, and she often uses canned food. "It's easy to prepare, you know, when we get home from work and school; and it's relatively inexpensive," she said.

Almost all food that comes from a can contains trace amounts of the chemical BPA. And the researchers who carried out the latest study say consumers need to be aware of it.

"I think that anyone who wants to reduce their exposure to BPA -- one way that they can do that is by avoiding canned food," said Jenny Carwile, from the Harvard School of Public Health.

In the Harvard School of Public Health study, volunteers ate a serving of canned soup each day for five days. Soon afterward, the levels of BPA were 12 times as high as those who ate soup made from scratch in the cafeteria.

The BPA levels dropped back to zero within a few hours.

There is no scientific argument that BPA always passes quickly through the body. The big dispute is whether constant exposure to things like the lining of metal cans and some water bottles presents a danger -- especially to fetuses and young children.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the association representing the canned food industry said: "The BPA exposure levels cited are not surprising," and F.D.A. and Canadian authorities "have consistently concluded that current exposures through canned foods do not pose a health risk to consumers, including newborns and infants."

Despite studies showing BPA can be dangerous to animals, no government has concluded it is harmful to humans. But Canada and the state of Connecticut have banned it in baby bottles and cans that contain baby formula.

Hearing the latest news, Iris Williams says she'll try to cut back on canned foods but says it won't be easy.

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Robert Bazell, NBC News

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