Does using plastic bottles and containers cause cancer?

  • Using plastics doesn’t increase the risk of cancer
     
  • It is safe to drink from plastic bottles, use plastic containers, cling film and store food in plastic bags
     
  • Even where plastics are heated for hours at a time, studies have shown that the food inside is safe to eat

Using plastics doesn’t cause cancer. This includes drinking from plastic bottles and using plastic containers and bags to store food in.

 

Should I avoid food and drink stored in plastic?

Cutting down on using plastics won’t affect your cancer risk. But it can have environmental benefits.

In the UK, the Food Standard Agency makes sure plastics and other materials used for food and drink are safe. You can find out more about the Food Standards Agency here.

 

Does bisphenol A (BPA) cause cancer?

Food and drink that’s stored in plastic with BPA doesn’t cause cancer.

Some people thought that chemicals that in some plastics, like bisphenol A (BPA) could get into our food or drink and then cause cancer.

Studies have found that certain chemicals in plastics may end up in things we may eat and drink. But the levels are very low, and within a range considered safe to humans. This is even true in experiments where plastics are heated for hours at a time.

Other studies have suggested some chemicals found in certain plastics have cancer-causing effects. But these experiments involve human cells in a lab, or animals. These are very different from how people would come into contact with plastics in their everyday life. And they don’t give good evidence on cancer risk in humans.

For example, in these studies, lots of a chemical may be put directly on to one type of cell. This wouldn’t happen in the human body.

 

There are many cancer myths that haven’t been proven to cause cancer. However, there are proven causes of cancer, and things you can do to reduce your risk.

 

Food Standards Agency. BPA in plastic. https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/bpa-in-plastic. Published 2018. Accessed November 2021.

EFSA. Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of bisphenol A ( BPA ) in foodstuffs. . 2015;13:1-23. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/150121

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