With concerns over the negative health effects of BPA (bisphenol-A) on the rise, news that exposure may lead to breast cancer doesn’t bode well for the plastic industry.
According to the research from the University of Texas at Arlington and published in a recent issue of the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, when breast cancer and mammary gland cells were exposed to BPA, the chemical worked with naturally occurring molecules, including estrogen, to create a more hospitable environment for breast cancer growth.
The researchers looked at a molecule known as RNA HOTAIR (HOX antisense intergenic RNA), which is a long, non-coding RNA found in human and some animal DNA. It has some ability through expression to suppress the genes that would slow tumor growth or kill cancer cells. “High levels of HOTAIR expression have been linked to breast tumors, pancreatic and colorectal cancers, sarcoma and others,” reports ScienceDaily.
BPA seemed to assist in the production of “abnormal amounts” of HOTAIR expression. “We can’t immediately say BPA causes cancer growth, but it could well contribute because it is disrupting the genes that defend against that growth,” said researcher Subhrangsu Mandal, associate professor of chemistry/biochemistry. “We were surprised to find that BPA not only increased HOTAIR in tumor cells but also in normal breast tissue,” added Arunoday Bhan, a PhD student in Mandal’s lab.
Used in a number of food containers, thermal register receipts and household products, BPA was recently banned from some baby products sold in the U.S. including sippy cups and bottles. The chemical has been banned or tightly restricted in countries including France, Canada and China.
BPA is known as an endocrine disruptor, which mimics human hormones thus interfering with hormone regulation and function. It has been linked to reproductive issues, including early puberty, obesity and cancers.
“Understanding the developmental impact of these synthetic hormones is an important way to protect ourselves and could be important for treatment,” said Mandal.
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