Nightly News | November 22, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Back now with a health news story about a staple in every home, and that's canned food . There's new research tonight about a chemical called BPA , which some studies, as you may know, have linked to a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes. We reported not long ago about concerns over BPA in some of those hard plastic water bottles and other products. Well, tonight, a new study raises concerns about BPA in canned foods. Our report from our chief science correspondent Robert Bazell .
Ms. IRIS WILLIAMS: All right. So let's put the peach on like this.
ROBERT BAZELL reporting: Iris Williams tries hard to make healthy meals for her family and she often uses canned food .
Ms. WILLIAMS: It's easy to prepare, you know, when we get home from work and school. And it's got relatively inexpensive.
BAZELL: Almost all food that comes from a can contains trace amounts of the chemical BPA , and the researchers who carried out the latest study say consumers need to be aware of it.
Ms. JENNY CARWILE (Harvard School of Public Health): I think that anyone who wants to reduce their exposure to BPA , one way that they can do that is by avoiding canned foods.
BAZELL: In the Harvard School of Public Health study, volunteers ate a serving of canned soup each day for five days. Soon afterwards, their levels of BPA were 12 times as high as those who ate soup made from scratch in the cafeteria. The BPA levels dropped back to zero within a few hours. There is no scientific argument that BPA always passes quickly through the body. The big dispute is whether constant exposure from sources, like the lining of metal cans and certain water bottles , presents a danger, especially to fetuses and young children. In a statement issued today, the association representing the canned food industry said, " The BPA exposure levels cited are not surprising," and FDA and Canadian authorities, "have consistently concluded that current exposures through canned foods do not pose a health risk to consumers, including newborns and infants."
BAZELL: Despite studies showing BPA can be dangerous to animals, no government has concluded it is harmful to humans. But Canada and the state of Connecticut have banned it in baby bottles and cans that contain baby formula .
Ms. WILLIAMS: You're going to make how many baskets?
BAZELL: Hearing the latest news, Iris Williams says she'll try to cut back on canned foods, but says it won't be easy. Robert Bazell , NBC News, New York.