BPA Disrupts Fetal Development

The chemical bisphenol A found in most canned foods, disrupts fetal development and sets the stage for later-life diseases, including breast cancer, according to the Breast Cancer Fund.

September 10, 2013

Canned Food Makers Urged to Replace BPA in Cans to Reduce Pregnant Women’s #1 Route of Exposure

WASHINGTON, DC (September 10, 2013) The chemical bisphenol A (BPA), found in most canned foods, disrupts fetal development and sets the stage for later-life diseases, including breast cancer, according to the Breast Cancer Fund’s just-released comprehensive review of the scientific literature on prenatal BPA exposure.

“The report summarizes more than 60 animal and human studies on prenatal BPA exposure, many of which demonstrate increased risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, metabolic changes, decreased fertility, early puberty, neurological problems and immunological changes,” said Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., director of science at the Breast Cancer Fund and co-author of the report. “It also explores why the developing fetus is particularly sensitive to the effects of BPA—especially during the first eleven weeks of pregnancy, when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant.”

For the past decade, efforts to restrict BPA have focused another critical window of exposure—early childhood—and BPA is now banned from baby bottles and infant formula packaging. But the science is now showing that fetal exposure to BPA is of even greater concern, spurring public health advocates to refocus on protecting women who are or may become pregnant.

“Eating food from cans, which are coated with BPA, is a major route of human exposure,” explained Gretchen Lee Salter, senior program and policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund and co-author of the report. “So to protect every woman who’s pregnant or may become pregnant, the only logical solution is to remove BPA from all canned foods.”

There are no state or federal regulations prohibiting BPA from canned foods intended for the general population. This year, six states considered bills that would have required the labeling or an outright ban of BPA in canned food; none passed.

“The 10 union partners of the BlueGreen Alliance represent thousands of women who make and coat food cans and who fill those cans with food in manufacturing and processing plants across the United States,” explained Charlotte Brody, RN, the Vice President for Health Initiatives for the BlueGreen Alliance. “We need to identify food can lining materials that are safer for production and processing workers and safer for consumers too.”

The Breast Cancer Fund, the BlueGreen Alliance and other public health advocates are calling on the major canned-food manufacturers to protect every woman who is or may become pregnant by moving away from the use of BPA and replacing the toxic chemical with a safer alternative.

“We can’t place yet another burden on pregnant women by giving them the nearly impossible job of avoiding BPA,” said Salter. “We have to get BPA out of food cans. We have to protect everyone—including the next generation—from the toxic effects of BPA.”