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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Diet Changes Dramatically Reduce BPA Levels

March 30, 2011

A new study has found that exposure to the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) through canned foods and other food packaging can be significantly reduced with simple dietary changes.

BPA is found in shatterproof plastics and in the liner of metal food cans, and studies have shown that it can leach from plastic and cans into food.

The chemical is associated with health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and infertility.

“Food packaging is the major source of people’s exposure to bisphenol A and the phthalate known as DEHP,” study researcher Ruthann A. Rudel, MS, director of research for the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass said in a statement.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.

For the study, researchers from Silent Spring and the Breast Cancer Fund recruited 20 people from five different families in the San Francisco area by posting on listserv sites.

The study had the families switch to a modified diet of fresh organic meals and snacks for three days.  The meals were prepared and delivered by a caterer that avoided using foods packaged in plastic or cans. 

Urine samples were taken during the families’ diet change and after they went back to eating as normal.

The study found that urinary BPA levels decreased by over 60 percent on average within three days of switching to a diet with minimal canned foods or plastic food packaging.

“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, Ph.D., director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society at Vassar College and science advisor to the Breast Cancer Fund, said in a statement.

“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.

The families BPA levels decreased quickly when they switched their diet over to fresh foods.

“We found just by substituting fresh foods with limited packaging for three days, we reduced exposure levels in these participants by more than half,” Rudel said in a statement.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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