• Dr Peter Chew

Canned food and fertility: the link

Canned foods come in tins that are lined with Bisphenol–A or BPA, an industrial chemical used to prevent metal corrosion and breakages and to preserve the food inside. For years, scientist have been debating about just how much BPA lurks in the canned foods and whether this could pose a health risk.


A recent study published in the journal Environmental Research in 2016 has revealed that consuming canned foods is the surest route to exposing our body to BPA.


The study included data collected on 7,669 people, ages 6 and older, in the United States between 2003 and 2008 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that BPA in canned food is excreted mainly in the urine. People who consumed one canned food item the previous day had about 24% higher concentrations of BPA in their urine compared with those who had not consumed canned food. The consumption of two or more canned food items resulted in about 54% higher concentrations of BPA.



The study also found that canned soups and pasta can expose consumers to higher levels of BPA than canned vegetables and fruit as BPA leached more into the soup when the food is heated up.


BPA is known to disrupt the normal responses of hormones in the body by mimicking the effects of oestrogen. In doing so, it can reprogram cells, causing a plethora of health problems including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and infertility.


Studies have shown that BPA can lower sperm count and motility and can damage the DNA of the sperm. It is also linked to low testosterone levels in men.


For women, the chemical has been shown to impact cell division in the ovaries and alter menstrual cycles.


A recent study, published in 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, examined 239 women who underwent IVF in Massachusetts from 2007 to 2012. Of the women with the highest exposure to BPA, 17 percent had a baby, compared to 54 percent of women with the lowest exposure.


Although it is not clear how much BPA in the food would be safe, the U.S.


Environmental Protection Agency suggests that exposure to BPA should not exceed 50 micrograms per kilograms of body weight each day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after reviewing hundreds of studies about BPA's safety has maintained that current authorized uses of BPA in food packaging are safe and will not have any negative impact on health.


Nevertheless, for couples who are embarking on the journey of parenthood, cooking and preparing food fresh should be the best option.

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