Common Plastic Chemical Speeds Breast Cancer Cell Growth

A common chemical found in many types of plastics, including water bottles, storage containers and canned goods has been found to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab. Researchers at Duke University set out to study the effects of plastic pollutants that have known estrogen-like structures. The scientists found that bisphenol-A (BPA) could stimulate growth of a certain cancer cell type, whether it was an estrogen-sensitive cancer or not. Furthermore, the researchers found that the cancer cells treated with BPA were more resistant to chemotherapy drugs, making them much harder to treat. “This, to the best of our knowledge, is the first study to show BPA’s effects in altering effectiveness of a targeted drug treatment approved for use in breast cancer patients, including those with inflammatory breast cancer”, said Dr. Gayathri Devi.

Dr. Devi and colleagues studied BPA in concentrations that they say would typically be found in hBPA-Toxicuman blood. The study identified several other compound that had a similar effect on breast cancer cells, but BPA had the strongest effect. BPA is in a class of compounds known as xenoestrogens, man-made chemicals that have a structure similar to estrogen and can potentially mimic estrogen inside the body. This study has broad implications and is yet another chemical that may be linked to increases in cases of breast and other cancers.

The scientists conclude that this result could explain why some patients with breast cancer do not respond to treatment. The results were presented at the 2014 joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago. This study was a joint effort between Duke University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) at North Carolina Central University.

Unfortunately, BPA is not the only compound in plastics that mimics estrogen.  There can be anywhere from 30 to 60 different chemicals that go into what seems like a simple plastic bottle.  Additionally, the mad rush to create BPA-free bottles has led to the use of other chemicals that have not been tested for safety at all.  So what are you options?  First, use as little plastic as possible.  Buy items in glass instead of plastic or cans (BPA is used in the ‘plastic’ lining inside canned goods).  You can also call your legislators and ask for stricter regulations on items that go into your food and food-safe containers.  We are paying the price for convenience and that price is our health.



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