In another in a long line of dubious implications for the controversial chemical BPA, a recent study suggests a possible link between exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) before birth and a heightened risk of prostate cancer.
Researchers say they have found fetal exposure to BPA increases the risk of prostate cancer in males later in life. The study, published in the Journal of Endocrinology online January 8, found yet another link between the ubiquitous chemical and cancer formation.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago implanted prostate stem cells from deceased young-adult men into mice. The mice were then fed BPA, in amounts seen in pregnant American women at levels ingested by the average person.
The cells then produced human prostate tissue. After the tissue matured for one month, mice were then given estrogen to mimic how the hormone rises in aging men. The natural rise of estrogen often occurs later in life and is known driver of prostate cancer.
The tissue was collected after two to four months and analyzed. One-third of the tissue had developed either pre-cancerous lesions or prostate cancer.
The prostate stem cells were exposed to BPA before implantation into the mice, then again as the cells produced prostate tissue. Nearly 45% of the tissues samples developed precancerous lesions or cancer.
This research appears to be the first direct link that BPA exposure during fetal development, even at daily levels, increases the risk of prostate cancer in human prostate tissue. The possible link could have far reaching implications for human cancer development.
“We believe that BPA actually reprograms the stem cells to be more sensitive to estrogen throughout life, leading to a life-long increased susceptibility to diseases including cancer,” wrote study authors.
Researchers used stem cells because they survive for a long time. They appear when a fetus first develops and have been found to have a wide variety of medical uses.
BPA Tied To A Variety of Health Effects
BPA is chemical commonly used during the manufacturing of plastics to soften the material. It is often used in plastic bottles, the lining of aluminum cans and receipts.
Researchers found BPA mimics the effect of estrogen in the body, potentially causing widespread side effects. It was originally designed to be an artificial form of estrogen.
A study published in November 2013, revealed the BPA was harmful to humans even at lower exposure levels, including reproductive effects. Levels 10 to 40 times lower than the current low dose thresh hold were found to cause effects in humans.
Other research found BPA fetal exposure also led to a risk of the child developing asthma. High concentrations of the chemical in the urine resulted in a higher risk of asthma and wheezing in children at by the age of 11.
Another study published in February 2013 revealed exposure to BPA may also hinder the proper formation of the human brain. BPA blocks a specific chemical in the brain which affects proper neurological development.