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it’s pumpkin time, but… | cans cause cancer!

Ok. This post is not meant to scare you.  But, we do need to limit our use of tin cans. I have not cut out all of the cans in our lives.  I mean, really, can we give up pumpkin?!  Many companies are wising up and are now using alternate packaging for their previously canned products like soups and tomato products.  But, where we live, we do not get a whole lot of these “green” or “natural” products. Supply and demand. The demand is not yet here.  For now, I have to make the best choices I can, but sometimes it’s better to cook dinner myself, using some cans, than to eat out.

How do cans cause cancer? Well, that’s a bit harsh.  Just about everything has been linked to cancer these-days.  It has been shown that Bisphenol A (BPA) leaches from tin cans and into the food contained.  We’ve been aware of BPA in our water bottles for a few years now and have changed the way we drink water because of it. Like I said above, hopefully this will change soon with our tin cans also!

Who is at the greatest risk & what should I do?

  • Developing fetuses and small children are at the greatest risk for all toxins. So, it’s always best to limit the use of these toxins during pregnancy, nursing and for young children.
  • Try to avoid baby formula found in tin cans.  Try to choose fresh or frozen over canned veggies or search for alternative packaging or BPA-free cans.

Any other tips? Is this alternative packaging in your stores yet?


Cliff - All cans are now an aluminum alloy which receives a coat of plastic to prevent the metals from leaching into the preserved foods, especially highly acidic foods such as tomatoes. The food acid eats at the metal if this plastic coating is absent. The “evil” chemical in question, bisphenol A, comes from this plastic coating and not the actual metal. Bisphenol A has been found to be a weak carcinogen. It accomplishes this task in both males and females for any organ in the body that has a receptor for estrogen (breast, ovary, testes, etc.) because it is hydroxylated (an -OH group is attached to the chemical structure) and is escorted to DNA by the Estrogen receptor where it then binds DNA causing mutations. The thing is that it is believed to accomplish this in the same fashion as everyday metabolites of estrogen (primarily catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones) do naturally. That is right, natural or exogenous estrogen (phytoestrogens) breaks down in the body and can act on DNA in the same fashion. This explains why, although it is a carcinogen, it is a very weak carcinogen in comparison to the quantity of estrogen found in the normal body.

Teresa O'Kelley - Good thing I stopped eating the cans a while back – too hard on my teeth. 😛 In all seriousness, it’s getting pretty overwhelming all the issues that are coming up over the years with food. We have recalls because manufacturers fail in their safety and cleanliness. This container is linked to cancer, others pancreatic cancer. Sodas to this, red meat is linked to that. Organic food has this problem. Regular processed foods have too exposure to that. Too much fiber, not enough fiber – it’s enough to make me pull my hair out.

The basic rule of thumb is the same as investing – you have to be moderate in EVERYTHING! Portion control, type of food you eat, etc. And, unless you grow your own food, you will not know 100% what is in it. Also, you have to know the history of your garden, the area, the seeds and plants you bought…

Cliff - Amen to Teresa’s comment. Great post Tori. Keep it up.

Toronto Girl West - I don’t know if you heard but Canada declared BPA toxic this week. Consequently, the news was full of articles about what else contained BPA. I was alarmed.

I would like to create a complete BPA home but until producers react to government pressure it will be somewhat impossible.

tori - @ Cliff – I ALWAYS love your comments and your knowledge. When I read this on my phone I told my hubby “I love having smart friends” b/c I love your input! Even, if it’s mostly over my head!

@ Teresa – I totally agree!!!! I have to live by the rule to try and “limit” b/c if you start eliminating everything that COULD cause cancer – you can’t eat anything but organic and we have a VERY small selection here! And, what you say is so true – nutrition has SO much information out there w/ combinations, timing, portions, fat grams, carb grams, calories, exercise, etc…it’s SOOO complicated! I’m not shocked at all that everyone is confused! BUT WHAT YOU SAID IS KEY!!! MODERATION!! VARIETY!!! I try to not live by any rules that I absolutely cannot have something. A couple of cans a week, until this country’s manufacturers figure out we want other packaging hopefully won’t kill me! We’ll see!

@Toronto Girl – I HAD NO IDEA!!! WHAT TIMING!!! I’m always so impressed w/ Europe and Canada banning bad things before we do and then I’m so disappointed in the US. 🙁 I need to read where all to find BPA – if you know, please share!!!

Audra - You know, it’s actually pretty easy to cut up a pie pumpkin and make your own purée. Or you can use butternut squash. I think most canned pumpkin is actually more squash than pumpkin. Anyway, I made my own purée for pumpkin butter last fall and blogged about it. I can hunt down the link if you want to try it out. 🙂

tori - @Audra – that’s SOO on my list of things I want to home-make…along w/ peanut butter, and tons of others. I need to learn how to “can” so I can preserve it too…if that’s even possible.

Audra - I’m sure it’s possible. Canning is super easy. Certain things to be canned in a pressure canner, though, in order to kill the bacteria, and I think pumpkin falls into that category. You could always buy freezer jars and just freeze it, though.

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