A new study found that a chemical in most cans and plastic bottles can raise blood pressure within a few hours.
The chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), found in the lining of the containers can seep into food or beverages. According to The New York Times, repeated exposure to BPA commonly leads to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. However, this new study is the first to show that the chemical has a direct and immediate impact on cardiovascular health.
The study, published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, found when the participants drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose 16 times higher within a couple of hours, and their blood pressure also rose. The majority of the participants did not have a history of high blood pressure.
The results were compared when the same participants drank beverages from glass bottles, which do not contain BPA. Drinking from glass resulted in no significant changes in BPA or blood pressure levels.
The researchers chose soy milk because it does not have properties that are known to increase blood pressure.
Dr. Karin B. Michels, an associate professor at Harvard and Brigham Young University, said repeated exposure to BPA – drinking or eating from plastic bottles or cans multiple times a day – could contribute to high blood pressure.
“I think this is a very interesting and important study that adds to the concern about bisphenol A,” Michels said, who was not involved in the study. “It raises a lot of questions. We have such a high rate of hypertension in this country, which has risen, and we haven’t really thought of bisphenol A and its use in cans as one of the causes of that. ”
Dr. Yun-Chul Hong, an author of the study and director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Seoul National University said he recommends people consume fresh foods and drink from glass bottles.
“Clinicians and patients – particularly hypertension or cardiovascular disease patients – should be aware of the potential clinical problems for blood pressure elevation when consuming canned food and beverages,” Hong said.