Like most mothers, Dr. Alicia Bigelow was thrilled that her son loved lentils. And as a busy mom and doctor, she thought giving him canned organic lentils and pasta in tomato sauce was both healthy and convenient.
So she was more than a little alarmed when the 3-year-old started complaining of pain around his nipples — and she realized he was developing breast buds.
"He was 3, and a boy, developing bits of breast tissue," she said. "My immediate thought was, 'What has he just been exposed to?'"
A conversation with her son's pediatrician revealed that the cause was probably hormone disruption from a chemical compound called bisphenol A (BPA) in the canned food he was eating. Bigelow's son ate around three to four cans per week, the mother of two said.
She immediately stopped feeding him canned food. After two months, the breast buds were gone. He no longer eats canned food, but continues to enjoy copious amounts of lentils and pasta that Mom makes for him. The breast buds have not returned.
Though Bigelow didn't want to name the brand of soup her son was eating (BPA is an industry-wide problem, she says) and did not get the product tested for BPA, she is certain the chemical is responsible for her child's symptoms. The can did not, after all, say it was BPA-free.
Bigelow, a naturopathic doctor and faculty member at the National College of Natural Medicine, has since signed a petition started by a nonprofit called Healthy Child, Healthy World, against BPA in the lining of Campbell's soup cans. The petition began in August but last week, the organization posted it on Change.org with a goal of getting 5,000 signatures. At press time, that goal has been met; now the petition's magic number is 7,500.