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IA Cooks May Want to Avoid Canned Foods on Thanksgiving

November 21, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa cooks who use all fresh foods for Thanksgiving may be doing their guests a healthy favor.

A new study from the Breast Cancer Fund says bisphenol A (BPA) can leach from the linings of metal food cans at levels which could impact one's health.

Even low-dose exposure to BPA has been linked to prostate and breast cancer, diabetes and developmental problems, says Kathleen Schuler, senior policy analyst at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

"It's related to the fact that bisphenol A is the 'hormone disruptor.' It disrupts the delicate balance of hormones in the human body. Hormones work at a very low level. so if you have a substance that disrupts the natural function of hormones, it can be very harmful and cause health effects later in life."

BPA largely has been eliminated from baby bottles and water bottles, Schuler says, but it's still used in most metal food cans, even though there are safer alternatives.

Cans of foods such as cream of mushroom soup, turkey gravy, creamed corn, green beans and pumpkin were tested, Schuler says, and BPA levels ranged widely.

"There was a lot of variability in the levels in different food products in different states, and there's no rhyme or reason for that. We just need to move to safer alternatives so we don't have to worry about this type of exposure, especially at Thanksgiving."

Marcia Lewis of Burnsville, Minn., a mother and breast cancer survivor, says the findings are very concerning.

"It makes me wonder if, all these years that I have been doing my best to provide a nutritious and healthy diet for my family, I might have been unwittingly adding carcinogens to my food. I find that appalling."

Lewis says she hopes the food industry will do what's right and stop using BPA in packaging.

"Cancer in itself is scary, but the treatment for cancer is devastating. So why would we not do everything we can in our power to prevent adding possible carcinogens to our food."

Schuler cites efforts in Congress to ban the use of BPA in food and drink packaging, but adds that the push has been unsuccessful so far.

The report and details on alternatives to using canned foods for Thanksgiving are online at the Breast Cancer Fund website, breastcancerfund.org/thanksgiving.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA