Saturday, April 2, 2011

Be careful, people....

E-Newsletter, March 2011

New Study Finds Food packaging is the Main Source of Hormone Disrupting Chemicals BPA, DEHP

Levels of BPA and DEHP Decrease over 50% When Adults and Children Avoid Food Packaging, Study Says

Grocery shoppers may want to avoid food packaged in plastic and cans and opt for fresh food prepared at home, according to a new study released today.  The study, "Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-ethylhexl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention" tracked levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals Bisphenol A (BPA) and the phthalate DEHP in study participants as they changed to a fresh food diet with limited food packaging.  BPA is a weak estrogen mimic with evidence of promoting breast cancer in laboratory studies. 

The study, conducted by Silent Spring Institute and Breast Cancer Fund, found that levels of BPA and DEHP declined by over 50% on average in study participants when they ate a fresh food diet that excluded plastic food packaging, cans, plastic wrap and other food packaging suspected to contain these chemicals.  Reductions were more pronounced for the highest exposures, which decreased by over 70% for BPA and over 90% for DEHP. These chemicals can migrate from the lining of cans and plastic packaging into food and beverages, especially when broken down by acids and fats in food, and when they are heated. 

"Women should not have to worry that using canned and packaged foods might be contributing to higher breast cancer risk," said Erin Boles, Associate Executive Director for the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. "Laboratory studies show that BPA stimulates breast cancer cell growth and can influence early breast development in ways that increase cancer susceptibility later in life.  This is a clear example of how our current laws are failing us and need to be updated to reflect modern science."

Consumers in Massachusetts should be outraged, particularly because the state has among the highest breast cancer rates in the country, nearly 10% higher than the national average. 

The new study supports stronger consumer protections.  Last year the Public Health Council of the MA Department of Public Health voted to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, but dismissed a push by the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and other health and environment groups to pass a broader ban aimed at all food and beverage containers.  This study provides compelling evidence that a more comprehensive BPA ban and substitution of safer alternatives is needed to protect health. 

"This study provides compelling evidence that food packaging is the major source of exposure to hormone-disrupting BPA and the phthalate DEHP.  Now that we know food packaging is a major source, we can take action to reduce exposure," according to Dr. Julia Brody, an author of the study and the executive director at Silent Spring Institute.

** A tip sheet on how to reduce BPA and DEHP exposure is available at:

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