We've all heard the warnings about the potential health risks posed by Bisphenol A, or BPA, a common industrial chemical found in a variety of everyday items, including the inside of food and beverage cans.
However, a new study by the University of Missouri has found that humans aren't the only ones who are vulnerable to the endocrine-disrupting effects of BPA.
"We wanted to determine if short-term feeding of widely available commercial canned food could alter BPA concentrations in dogs. Thus, we assessed BPA contained within pet food cans. We also analyzed whether disturbances in bacteria found in the gut and metabolic changes could be associated with exposure to BPA from the canned food," says Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the university's College of Veterinary Medicine and investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center.
Pet owners volunteered their healthy dogs to participate in the study. Researchers collected blood and fecal samples at the outset of the study. The dogs were then placed on one of two widely used, commercial canned food diets for a period of two weeks. One of the diets was supposedly BPA-free.
Researchers then analyzed the cans and their contents for evidence of BPA and also examined the guts' of the dogs for BPA levels.
The findings told an interesting story. While the samples collected from dogs before the study began did contain minimal levels of BPA, the dogs' BPA levels increased nearly threefold after two weeks on both canned food diets.
According to Rosenfeld;
"We also found that increased serum BPA concentrations were correlated with gut microbiome and metabolic changes in the dogs analyzed. Increased BPA may also reduce one bacterium that has the ability to metabolize BPA and related environmental chemicals."
Rosenfeld says the findings of the study are relevant to humans as well. Because we share our home environments with our dogs, our dogs show us the effects that commonly used industrial chemicals have on our own health.
The dangers of canned dog food recently became real for a Washington state woman whose four dogs fell severely ill, one of which died, on New Year's Eve after eating canned dog food. The cause of the illness is still under investigation, so it remains unknown whether BPA played any part. However, it is a reminder that feeding canned dog food is not without risk.
The canned dog food study was published in Science of the Total Environment and you can access it here.
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