A study by the non-profit Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute, a breast cancer research group, said BPA, often used in clear, shatterproof plastics such as baby bottles and food-storage containers as well as the liners of metal food cans, can leach from the plastic and cans into food, Silent Spring reported Wednesday.
The study tracked five San Francisco Bay-area families for eight days in January 2010, collecting urine samples from family members after each family regularly ate meals prepared outside the home, including canned foods, canned sodas and frozen dinners. They also microwaved foods in plastic.
The families were then switched to a modified diet of fresh organic meals and snacks, prepared and delivered by a caterer that avoided using foods packaged in plastic or cans. The meals were stored in glass and stainless steel containers.
Urine samples collected during the families' diet changes showed urinary BPA levels decreased by more than 60 percent on average within three days of switching to a diet with minimal canned foods or plastic food packaging, the study found.
"One of the main sources of BPA is believed to be food packaging, but there weren't any studies that had actually looked at having people eat a normal diet and then stop eating foods that had been wrapped in BPA-containing products," Janet Gray of Vassar College, science adviser to the Breast Cancer Fund, told the Los Angeles Times.
"We wanted to be able to ask the question: Could we have fairly simple changes in people's lives, both adults and children, that would alter their exposure and body burden of BPA?" Gray said.
"This is an important study," said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. "It highlights two things: first, the government still does not have a handle on these chemicals even though health concerns have been established for years. Secondly, there is something consumers can do. As long as the federal government fails to identify and restrict toxic substances, consumers will increasingly have to take matters into their own hands through efforts like restricting their packaged food."