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Pink news: Plastic chemical may promote breast cancer development

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Editor's note: In the pink month or the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we publish the following for those who might be interested.  Some news outlets have suggested simply thinking pink or wearing pink isn't enough to fight breast cancer. We hope this report may give readers a hint that a little something may be done to lower the risk of the malignancy that strikes one in eight women in their lifetime.

Plastic chemical may boost breast cancer risk

A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that a toxic chemical known as bisphenol A or BPA, which is commonly found in plastics, may promote development of breast cancer.

The study led by Lapensee E.W. at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio and colleagues found low nanomolar concentrations of bisphenol A in two breast cancer cultures reduced the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents.

It has been long suspected that BPA promotes carcinogenesis even though studies on high doses of bisphenol A were not consistent, according to the background information in the study report.

The current study was meant to examine the estrogenic effect of bisphenol A, which mimics estrogen in chemistry, on in-vitro  breast cancer cells as female reproductive hormone estrogen has been found to promote growth of breast cancer cells.

For the study, the researchers tested the efficacy of anticancer drugs doxorubicin, cisplatin and vinblastine in the estrogen receptor-alpha-positive T47D and the estrogen receptor-alpha-negative MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells in the presence of nanomolar concentrations of BPA.

Lapensee et al found BPA antagonizes the cytotoxicity of multiple chemotherapeutic agents in both breast cancer cells independent of the classical estrogen receptors. 

Additionally, the researchers identified both types of breast cancer cells expressed alternative estrogen receptors such as G-protein-coupled receptor 30 (GPR30) and members of the estrogen-related receptor family and when exposed to BPA, cells over-expressed antiapoptotic proteins, suggesting BPA has anticytotoxic effects and sabotages the work of chemotherapy.

"BPA at environmentally relevant doses reduces the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents. These data provide considerable support to the accumulating evidence that BPA is hazardous to human health," the researchers concluded.

Bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor, is commonly used in polycarbonated plastics,food and beverage containers, epoxy resins for food cans and dental composites among other things. It has been found also to harm the brain, reproductive system and immune system.  

One early study published in Reproductive Toxicology suggested prenatal exposure to bisphenol may increase risk of breast cancer after children enter their adulthood.

Ana M. Soto at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and colleagues found female rats whose mothers were exposed to bisphenol A during pregnancy were more likely to develop breast cancer than those without being exposed to the chemical in mothers' womb.

More reports will be published in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to show readers that something can be done to reduce the risk of the disease that is diagnosed in more than 175,000 women and kills about 50,000 each year in the United States.

Stay tuned!

David Liu

(Send your news to foodconsumer.org@gmail.com, Foodconsumer.org is part of the Infoplus.com ™ news and information network)

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