FIT WebQoof: Can Eating Hot Food in Plastic Bags Cause Cancer?

There is insufficient scientific evidence to establish such a direct link between cancer and plastic.

3 min read
What’s the link between plastic and cancer?
Don’t fall for fake news, <a href="">click here</a> to check out <b>Quint Fit</b>’s WebQoof stories.
Don’t fall for fake news, click here to check out Quint Fit’s WebQoof stories.

The Claim

A message doing the rounds on social media enlists some ‘causes’ of cancer. It claims that drinking hot tea or coffee, or eating hot food in a plastic bag can lead to 52 types of cancer — because of the chemicals released when heat comes in contact with plastic.

American Doctors Association's Answers to One of the Causes of Cancer. 1. Do not drink tea or coffee in a cup of...

Posted by Health with Nutrition on Tuesday, April 9, 2019
FIT WebQoof: Can Eating Hot Food in Plastic Bags Cause Cancer?

True or False?

According to experts, there is insufficient scientific evidence to establish such a direct link between cancer and plastic, which is why they can’t be certain about this claim.

“No controlled study has been done to show that plastic can cause cancer. But some observational studies have found that it does have harmful chemicals.”
Dr Ashwini Setya

In an earlier article for FIT, Dr Setya had written that using plastic containers in the microwave or pouring heated food in them can cause chemicals to leach into the food. “And some of these chemicals – like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, might do strange things to your body, mimicking and disrupting hormones in ways that even scientists haven’t fully understood.”

“BPA is a chemical which has been shown to impersonate hormones such as estrogen, and it is associated—though not definitely linked—to a broad range of health problems, including cancers and cardiovascular disease. But again, we can’t be certain.”
Dr Ashwini Setya 

American Cancer Society and other cancer research organisations have maintained that as per evidence, even if small amounts of chemicals enter the food, their levels are very low to be called dangerous. In fact — that ‘microwaving food in plastic causes cancer’ — has been added to the list of ‘rumours’ that circulate about the disease.

Is There a Cause for Cancer?

According to the US National Cancer Institute, it is difficult to ascertain why a particular person got cancer. Research and studies have found certain ‘risk factors’, such as age, alcohol, obesity, tobacco and diet, but a causal link between these (except tobacco) and cancer cannot be established.

The same applies for plastic. Dr Setya says, “Plastic is not so fantastic, you can’t 100 percent trust that any plastic is free from toxic compounds.”

But can it cause cancer? It’s difficult to say. Plastic can be harmful, but a causal relationship between plastic and cancer cannot be established.

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