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Last Can of Tomatoes: Trying to Live BPA Free

Updated on April 2, 2013
Most canned goods are lined with BPA which can break down and cause many health issues.
Most canned goods are lined with BPA which can break down and cause many health issues. | Source
I began canning to control what went into the food my family consumed.
I began canning to control what went into the food my family consumed. | Source

Using the Last Can

After learning about BPA (bisphenol A) a few months ago, I set a goal of never buying canned tomatoes again. I had a small stockpile of stewed tomatoes that I purchased on sale, and being someone who does not waste anything, I wanted to use them up.

This goal coincided with learning how to can my own food. I began water bath canning at the beginning of this summer. I have a vegetable garden and buy produce from local family owned farms. I had wanted to learn how to can for years, but discovering what companies used to line cans spurred me on to educate myself in the process.

BPA is a chemical used in plastics and the inner surface of cans, including high acid foods like tomatoes. Studies have shown that liquids and foods placed in BPA containers may become contaminated to a toxic level. Acid based foods are a particular cause for concern because they can break down the lining of the can in which they are stored.

Another way for the toxins to be triggered is through heat. A plastic container, which is made with BPA, should never be placed in the microwave. The BPA can leak into the food from the heated container.

September is PCOS awareness month.
September is PCOS awareness month. | Source

Endocrine Factors

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I was diagnosed in 2007 but have shown symptoms of the syndrome since I was 12 years old. PCOS is when the ovaries become cystic, causing many issues with ovulation and fertility. Other associated symptoms of PCOS are obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, hirsutism, and acne. This condition is still quite a mystery to physicians, but as more women find themselves with this syndrome, medical studies have started to provide insight into the causes.

One of the most intriguing discovers in recent years is the possible link between BPA and PCOS. Bisphenol A acts as an endocrine disruptor causing havoc in the body’s reproductive system. BPA mimics estrogen and has caused abnormalities in the uterus of lab mice, as well as early puberty in females.

When I learned about the estrogen connection, bells went off in my head. Up until my hysterectomy in 2007, I had only experienced two good weeks out of a month since I was a teenager due to severe endometriosis. For years, I lived with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) as well, which caused me to turn into a person no one recognized. I experienced bloating, incredible mood swings, cramps so awful I thought I was giving birth, and waves of nausea so strong that I was forced to live off of motion sickness pills for days before my period. In recent years, I found out the nausea right before the menstrual cycle is caused by an overload of estrogen. I just have to wonder if the estrogen I absorbed for many years through BPA products caused a saturation of hormones during the PMDD period.

Everything started to make sense once I learned about PCOS and the BPA connection. I am not blaming PCOS on BPA yet, but I am real close. There still is a genetic component to PCOS and many cases of generations suffering from PCOS have been documented. But, since BPA has been around since 1939, I think a logical connection can be made, especially if mothers were consuming BPA toxins while pregnant. Therefore, creating new female generations already exposed to the endocrine disruptors while in the womb.

Other Health Concerns

Other studies of BPA have linked it to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, liver problems, and possibly breast cancer-all participating symptoms of PCOS. For males, BPA has been linked to sexual dysfunction. So in a household filled with BPA products, it would not surprise me if fertility issues existed.

As of July, 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. This came after much public outcry over the recent studies linking the substance to the ailments I have already mentioned. But, is the damage already done for many generations of children who drank from bottles that were heated in microwaves or on the stove? Possibly, but the toxin builds up over time. For someone like me, in my forties, a lifetime of consuming BPA has done its damage, but I am battling to regain my health.

Canning your own food is a great alternative to purchasing cans lined with BPA.
Canning your own food is a great alternative to purchasing cans lined with BPA. | Source

Eliminating the Cause

Anyone can choose to remove all the BPA from their homes right now and make a conscious effort not to purchase products that are lined with the compound. Plastics that have the recycle labels numbered 1,2,4,5,6, are unlikely to contain BPAs. Those having the numbers 3 and 7, usually do contain the substance.

You can also be proactive in the fight against BPAs by canning food and/or purchasing products in glass bottles. Canning jars are glass and BPA free, but as I recently learned from another hub article, lids do contain a small amount of the compound. Still, I am working to rid my house of any BPAs. It is a difficult job, but my health and the protection of family makes it a worthwhile project.

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About the Author

Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.

Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore her professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.


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