BPA exposure before birth linked to breast cancer

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: BPA exposure, breast cancer, health news

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(NaturalNews) To many people interested in healthy living, the term BPA is nothing new. It stands for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s.

A known hormone disruptor, BPA is hard to avoid. But once you learn about its dangers, you know why it's worth the effort to look for BPA-free products. For example, NaturalNews has carried story after story about evidence that links BPA to all sorts of serious health problems from cancer, kidney and developmental problems to heart disease and diabetes (http://www.naturalnews.com/024207_BPA_health...).

Now there's breaking research news showing how BPA could be doing harm inside the bodies of babies even before they are born. Another modern day plague is also associated with prenatal BPA exposure -- breast cancer.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research found that exposure in the womb to the kinds of BPA doses that are widespread in the environment alters long-term hormone response in females.

The study, which is set for publication in Molecular Endocrinology, a journal of the Endocrine Society, shows BPA can cause dangerous changes in breast development that increase the odds of developing cancer.

The scientists pointed out in a media statement that although their BPA study used animals, it mimicked the exposure humans typically have to the compound as it leaches from BPA-containing plastics, such as beverage bottles, and the lining of tin cans. The research team added the chemical to the drinking water of breeding mice. Then, after weaning, the female mice from BPA-drinking parents were moved to a BPA-free environment and followed over time.

The researchers analyzed changes in the mammary glands of female offspring exposed to BPA through their mothers both before birth and while being breast fed and discovered BPA exposed females showed an increased response to the hormone progesterone. This is a crucial point because lifetime exposure to progesterone is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.

What's more, the researchers found that adult females who had been exposed to BPA while in the womb and breast fed had a 1.5 fold increase in cell numbers in their milk ducts. They may not sound like such a big deal but consider this: it is comparable to what's seen with similar exposure to diethyllbestrol (DES), another estrogenic compound.

And DES, widely prescribed by mainstream doctors to millions of pregnant U.S. women for over 30 years as a "safe" treatment to prevent miscarriages, was eventually found to cause horrific health problems in later life to the children of those women.

A lesson from the DES nightmare

Although DES use was halted in l971, health problems continue to haunt, and sometimes kill, the children of the women who took the drug, including many who had no idea their mothers were given the dangerous "miscarriage treatment."

In general, women whose mothers took DES reached their young adulthood before problems started showing up -- including the inability to have children due to a misshapen uterus and cancer. According to the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research scientists, DES in the human population has been shown to increase the relative risk of women developing breast cancer two-fold by the time they reach their fifties.

BPA, unlike DES, is not a prescribed drug that can be taken off the market. It is already widespread and is now detected in body fluids of more than 90 percent of the human population -- which means it could be putting far more people at risk for health problems than even the large numbers exposed to DES.

Long known to have estrogen-like properties, many scientists have expressed concern exposure to BPA could have developmental effects on various hormone-responsive organs including the breasts. However, the FDA has continued to "study" the problem and do little to actually protect the public from BPA. In fact, the feds have been far more aggressive going after people selling unpasteurized milk than mega corporations manufacturing and selling BPA loaded products.

The latest official statement from the US government this year noted that "On the basis of results from recent studies using novel approaches to test for subtle effects, both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children. In cooperation with the National Toxicology Program, FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research is carrying out in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about the risks of BPA."

That's right. The FDA only has "some" concern and they are waiting on the completion of other studies before taking a meaningful stand on the safety of BPA -- as if there were not already multiple studies completed by numerous scientists providing evidence that BPA is a clear and present risk to the human population.

"While we cannot extrapolate these results directly from mice to humans, the possibility that some of the increase in breast cancer incidence observed over the past decades may be attributed to exposure to BPA cannot be dismissed," Cathrin Brisken, MD, of the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research and co-author of the study, said in a statement to the media. "Our study suggests that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should avoid exposure to BPA as it may affect their daughters breast tissue."

[Editor's Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.]

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