Mammary Gland Development Altered by BPA

The compound is found in commonly used plastic objects

Bisphenol-A is a dangerous compound that can be found in plastic. For years, experts have been drawing attention to its negative effects on health, but its use has yet to be forbidden entirely. Now, experts find new data that it affects the development of mammary glands in primates.

The common plastic additive is believed to contribute to the development of breast cancer in humans, although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under pressure from oil industry-backed lobbyists, still does not consider it to be an issue for public health.

There are many studies suggesting that BPA causes significant health problems in humans. This is why many companies that make baby products, for example, have eliminated the chemical from their processes. This enables the mothers to feed their children from BPA-free plastic bottles.

Details of the new investigation on the effects BPA has on the development of primate mammary were published in the May 7 issue of the esteemed journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS), EurekAlert reports.

“Previous studies in mice have demonstrated that low doses of BPA alter the developing mammary gland and that these subtle changes increase the risk of cancer in the adult,” Patricia Hunt explains.

“Some have questioned the relevance of these findings in mice to humans. But finding the same thing in a primate model really hits uncomfortably close to home,” adds the scientist, who holds an appointment as a geneticist with the Washington State University School of Molecular Biosciences.

She carried out the study with Ana Soto and Carlos Sonnenschein, who are both researchers at the Tufts University School of Medicine. The study was conducted at the University of California in Davis (UCD), under the supervision of scientist Catherine VandeVoort.

In a series of new experiments, pregnant monkeys were given a fruit containing small doses of BPA over a length of time corresponding to the third semester of a human pregnancy. This resulted in animals exhibiting the same bodily BPA concentrations as most Americans today.

Monkeys exposed to the chemical presented a significantly increased density of mammary burs, leading to a more advanced overall development of the glands than in animals not exposed to bisphenol-A.

“This study buttresses previous findings showing that fetal exposure to low xenoestrogen levels causes developmental alterations that in turn increase the risk of mammary cancer later in life,” Soto explains, quoted by EurekAlert.

“Because BPA is chemically related to diethylstilbestrol, an estrogen that increased the risk of breast cancer in both rodents and women exposed in the womb, the sum of all these findings strongly suggests that BPA is a breast carcinogen in humans and human exposure to BPA should be curtailed,” she concludes.

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