Researchers from Indiana University studied how bisphenol-A (BPA) may be more easily absorbed by breast tumor cells than healthy cells. Experts have long assumed that since healthy cells do not readily absorb bisphenol sulfate -- one of the body's metabolized forms of BPA -- BPA is a harmless chemical. However, the Indiana researchers found that breast tumor cells, which vastly differ from normal, healthy cells, convert bisphenol sulfate back into BPA, which can be easily taken up into tumor cells.
Lead researcher Theodore Widlanski believes that an enzyme carried on the surface of breast tumor cells strips away the sulfate molecules from BPA -- a property healthy cells lack-- which allows it to enter the cell. Once BPA enters the tumor cell, it may encourage proliferation and survival in much the same way as estrogen.
Widlanski says his study has only uncovered a possible link between breast cancer and BPA -- which is used in everything from food storage containers and baby bottles to electronics parts -- and consumers should not be overly concerned.
The plastics industry says BPA has been rigorously tested for any possible carcinogenic effects, and found to "not likely" pose a risk to humans. Steven Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate Business Unit at the American Plastics council, says Widlanski's study is flawed because it was an in vitro study, the results of which cannot be applied to long-term exposure in humans. Widlanski says in vitro studies were his only option, as long-term human testing of a possible carcinogen would be unethical.
"Of course the plastics industry is going to say plastics are safe," explains Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate. "But the reality is that chemicals in our foods, drugs and home environments are undeniably contributing to skyrocketing rates of breast cancer and prostate cancer," Adams says. "And bisphenol-A very likely plays a significant role in disrupting the normal metabolic balance of hormone-sensitive tissues and organs."
Adams warns consumers to avoid heating food in plastic containers and to use glass, Pyrex or other non-plastic food containers whenever possible. He also urges consumers to read The Hundred-Year Lie to get the full story about the dangers of chemicals in foods, beverages, drugs and common kitchen items like storage containers.