In a recently published study, researchers from South Korea reported that drinking from cans, many of which have linings that contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), can raise blood pressure by 16 times compared to drinking from glass bottles.
The data is not the first to implicate BPA as a potential health hazard. Previous studies have connected the chemical, which can be found in plastics, the linings of cans and coating some cash register receipts, to disruptions in reproductive hormones such as estrogen, as well as a higher risk of asthma, obesity and disruptions in brain development in children.
Exposure to BPA however is almost unavoidable in modern societies. Most studies show that people living in the US have high exposures to BPA, and the chemical has been found in the urine of more than 95 percent of adults.
Korean scientists decided to study a same group of 60 older people who drank the same beverages from both cans and glass bottles. Because the same people were being studied, it was unlikely that other factors that can affect BPA concentrations were influencing the results.
Senior author Yun-Chul Hong from the department of preventive medicine and the environmental health center at Seoul National University and his colleague found that the containers the drinkers used made a big difference in their BPA levels. Each was given two servings of soy milk during each of three visits. The milk was served in either two cans or two glass bottles. The volunteers’ urine BPA levels were lowest after drinking from the two glass bottles, and highest after consuming milk from the two cans.
This difference translated to a change in 5 mmHg in blood pressure. Hong notes that an increase of 20 mmHg doubles the risk of heart disease, so the rise from BPA exposure is concerning.
“Because hypertension is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, our study showing the link of BPA exposure to elevation in blood pressure strongly suggests that BPA exposure may increase the risk of heart disease,” said Hong.
When doctors evaluate patients for high blood pressure, asking them how many canned products they consume, since the exposure to BPA from those containers could be pushing their blood pressure higher.
So, if you have a choice of getting your vegetables from the preserved aisle or the produce aisle, it might be better for your heart to kick the can.