Oh no, not again: BPA and cancer...in mice

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The BPA-cancer link is making headlines again. This time, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago claim that according to their study, exposure to low levels of BPA in utero is associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Researchers, led by Dr. Gail Prins, professor of physiology and director of the andrology laboratory at the UIC College of Medicine, implanted human prostate stem cells into 143 mice. One group of mice was fed BPA for two weeks following implantation, at levels the researchers claim were equivalent to the levels of BPA an average person would ingest. The other group of mice was fed oil instead of BPA. Researchers found that one in three mice treated with BPA developed prostate cancer or pre-cancerous lesions compared with 12 percent of the mice fed oil.

The conclusion from this study? Study authors say, The present findings provide the first evidence that exposure of the developing human prostate epithelium to BPA at relevant human exposure levels markedly increases the incidence of prostate carcinogenesis in the mature epithelium exposed to elevated estradiol."

However, Dr. Steven G. Hentges from the American Chemistry Council cautions that This study has very limited relevance to real-life human exposures to BPA as the levels tested are more than 1,000 times higher than typical human exposures. In addition, the validity of the experimental model studied, which involves grafting 'humanized prostate-like structures' derived from human and rat tissues into mice and treatment with an artificial mixture of hormones, has not been well established.

And of course there s the fact that the science behind BPA exposure has been evaluated by government and regulatory bodies around the world and the conclusion is always the same: BPA is safe at the levels to which humans are exposed from food and other materials.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, a former oncology researcher, explains Although the nude mouse model is a standard tool in oncology research, it has limitations, especially since is it designed to promote rapid tumor growth so potential anti-cancer drugs can be evaluated more quickly. The model also accelerates the shrinkage of tumors when the mouse is given a drug. There is an old saying in the field that we would have cured cancer a thousand times if people were nude mice.