The Dangerous Chemical Lurking in Your Beer Can
Almost exactly 80 years since its debut, the beer can remains a wildly popular vessel for America's favorite alcoholic beverage. According to the Beer Institute, cans accounted for (XLS) 53.2 percent of the beer market in 2012 (the latest year for numbers), versus 36.5 percent for bottles and 10 percent for draft. And the can's market share has been inching up—as recently as 2004, just 48 percent of beer came in cans.
But BPA researcher Karin Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard, told me that she knows of no research that assesses how much BPA actually makes it into our bodies from drinking canned beer. She herself coauthored a 2011 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finding that a "group of volunteers who consumed a serving of canned soup each day for five days had a more than 1,000 percent increase in urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations compared with when the same individuals consumed fresh soup daily for five days," as the Harvard press release put it.
A similar study by Korean researchers published in Hypertension found that on days when subjects drank canned soy milk, the BPA levels found in their urine surged by 1,600 percent, and their blood pressure rose significantly, compared to days when they took their soy milk from bottles (not the first time that BPA has been associated with cardiovascular dysfunction).