How to reduce BPA levels by 60 percent in 3 days

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10_Canned_Foods_ecard We know BPA is all around us, and the CDC tells us the chemical is in almost 95 percent of us. And we know that laboratory studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, along with a whole host of other serious health problems. But what is the leading source of the BPA that contaminates our bodies? If we removed that source, how much would our BPA levels drop?

The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute conducted a study, published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, to find out. We enlisted five families for a week-long investigation. First, the families ate their normal diets. Then, we provided them with three days’ worth of freshly prepared organic meals that avoided contact with BPA-containing food packaging, such as canned food and polycarbonate plastic. Finally, the families returned to their normal diets. We measured their BPA levels at each stage.

While the families were eating the fresh-food diet, their BPA levels dropped on average by 60 percent. Those with the highest exposure levels saw even greater reductions: 75 percent.

These groundbreaking results tell us that removing BPA from food packaging will eliminate our number one source of BPA exposure.

Here’s a summary of the kinds of changes we made to the family’s diets and how you can replicate them in your own kitchen:

– Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.
– Move foods to ceramic or glass food containers for microwaving.
– Consider a French press for coffee – home coffee makers may have polycarbonate-based water tanks and phthalate-based tubing.
– Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.
– Limit canned food consumption. Download our 10 Canned Foods to Avoid wallet card for your next shopping trip. And share it with people you care about.
– Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.
– Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).

While we can take steps to reduce our BPA exposure, we need big-picture solutions to ensure that everyone is protected from this chemical. That's why we're telling industry and government that we want safe, non-toxic food packaging now. We’re urging our elected officials to pass laws that will eliminate harmful chemicals from food packaging. We’re demanding reform of the broken system that allows these chemicals to be in our food packaging in the first place. Thanks for lending your voice to this critical work.

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16 thoughts on “How to reduce BPA levels by 60 percent in 3 days

  1. Perhaps if we do the lemon juice detox, that the BPA will be expelled from our bodies quicker and more completely. It’s a popular detox consisting of organic lemon juice, organic maple syrup, sea salt, filtered water, and cayenne pepper. You’re supposed to do it for 10 days straight. Anyway, I am concerned about BPA exposure throughout my life. Perhaps this detox, which I have been planning on doing, would be a great idea, health-wise.

  2. I think its not only the plastic its also the metal which partially fuses with the food, especially if the food is uncooked. Additionally, from canned food all active substances of nutritional value separate naturally from the food over time and evaporates into the air once the can is opened. The latter of course also happens with any other food so called preserved in other containers.

  3. RRG, this is a great question. One of the issues with BPA is that while it leaves the body quickly, most of us are constantly replenishing the levels in our bodies. Furthermore, even though BPA leaves our body quickly, it’s temporary presence can alter physiology. For instance, in many laboratory studies rats or mice are exposed to BPA for a short period of time. Studies have tested the effect of these short exposures (often seven to 21 days) at different developmental periods and found that small doses for even a few days can affect brain physiology, behavior, age of puberty, mammary gland development, and both female and male reproductive outcomes. These low-dose exposures, typically at early developmental stages (during pregnancy and shortly after birth) have long-term impacts.
    All that said, for most of us, the short-term use of canned foods in an emergency probably outweighs the risks from BPA. Nevertheless, it would be ideal to not have to weigh the need for emergency foods with concerns about exposures to BPA.
    As far as detoxification, since the body clears BPA fairly rapidly when given the chance, the best course is probably to reduce exposure. Detoxification agents are generally directed at bioaccumulative chemicals (such as heavy metals and persistent chemicals).

  4. Hmmm…I generally try and stay away from canned goods, but they are necessarily a big part of my “emergency” stock of foods. You can’t always count on having electricity for your fridge/freezer. If, after going off BPA containing foods, the levels dropped 60-75%, wouldn’t that imply that the damage is reversible? Also, do you suppose that something like zeolite could help in detoxing the BPA?

  5. We understand the frustration behind the concern that “everything” is included in this list of foods to avoid. But you do have options and the power to prioritize. In the real world we all eat out from time to time, we all buy some canned foods. For canned foods you use all the time, you can prioritize looking for alternatives: use dry beans instead of canned (they’re cheaper, too), frozen vegetables, pasta sauce in glass jars, etc. Lower your exposure to these foods and you will lower your BPA exposure.
    You should also take a look at our report, What Labels Don’t Tell Us, which analyzed all the BPA product testing that has been done to determine which food and drinks have the highest levels of BPA — those are the ones to prioritize. The categories in this report are necessarily broad (and the source for our 10 Canned Foods to Avoid wallet card), but still useful. Find the report at http://www.breastcancerfund.org/assets/pdfs/publications/what-labels-dont-tell-us-1.pdf.
    Beyond what you can do in your own kitchen, you have power to make change in the marketplace. Canned food makers will be forced to change their packaging to safe, BPA-free alternatives if customers ask; state and federal laws are in the works that would require a phase-out of BPA in various products. See http://www.breastcancerfund.org/big-picture-solutions/make-our-products-safe/bpa-legislation.html for more information about your big-picture options.

  6. So, if you look at the list of 10 canned foods to avoid, the bottom line is “everything” – meat, vegetables, beans, prepared meals, juice, fruit…
    And restaurant food, avoid that too.
    So basically, you’re saying buy only fresh food, store it in glass or stainless steel, cook from scratch and don’t eat out. Got it.
    Will I do it? I guess I’ll move towards it and see how far I get.

  7. John, unfortunately it’s pretty hard to know which canned foods are truly safe. Some brands have started using alternatives, but for the most part we don’t know what’s in those alternatives or if they’re truly safe. Eden Foods has some helpful info about the liner it’s using in its bean products (see http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=178), and Muir Glen announced last year that it was replacing BPA in its tomato products (see http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2010/04/19/general-mills-pull-bpa-organic-tomato-cans#ixzz0mJLf7Vyr&w).
    Brands aside, product tests on canned foods have shown that foods high in fat, salt and acid are the most likely to leach. Last year we published a survey of all the product testing that’s been done on various types of food, so you can see which canned foods had the highest — and lowest — BPA levels. See http://www.breastcancerfund.org/assets/pdfs/publications/what-labels-dont-tell-us-1.pdf.

  8. Hi, are ziplock bags appropriate to freeze food? Is it ok to use them when they are not being frozen? and the plastic bags where the frozen veggies come in, are they safe?
    How about ice cube containers? if not plastic what can we use?

  9. Tracy, yours are excellent questions. While both the thin saran-type plastic wrap and the thicker shrink wrap found on cheese, deli meats, etc., *may* contain phthalates, not much product testing has been done to really know for sure. Some brands may indeed be phthalate-free, but it’s pretty hard to know.
    Your instinct to call the manufacturer is good — they can hopefully give you information about their packaging materials…if they know.
    One thing you can be sure of: neither type of plastic wrap contains BPA, which is used in hard plastics.

  10. Hi Nancy, I’m not familiar with mylar bags but I’ll see what I can find out for you.

  11. These results are AMAZING!
    I have more to do in this area, especially with respect to restaurant meals.
    QUESTION for anyone who may know —
    *** What about the plastic wrap found around almost all cheeses??? *****
    There is the saran type wrap used to cover deli-cheese, firmer/thicker shrink-wrap around some cheeses (and deli-type sandwich meats too).
    I called Organic Valley to ask about the wrap on their moz string cheese & they say BPA/pthalate free. I’m not toally convinced.
    THANKS!

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