BPA, prostate cancer, mice, and men

According to a media release issued by the University of Illinois at Chicago, a research group at that institution has just published data suggesting that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) can increase risk for prostate cancer.

Here is a link to the story in Scientific American based on the media release and on a pre-publication copy of the article by Prins et al. that is scheduled for publication in the journal Endocrinology later this year.

There is no doubt that early exposure to BPA was common in the past. There are a lot of data to suggest that exposure to BPA is not generally a good idea. And, based on the current paper, there appears to be little doubt that fetal exposure to BPA increased risk for prostate cancer  … in mice implanted with prostate stem cells from deceased young men. However, whether early exposure to BPA can actually be proven to have increased risk for prostate cancer in men is specific countries is a very different question that this paper doesn’t answer. We don’t dispute the possibility, but at the same time we want to be clear that the authors are putting forward data to support an hypothesis. They can’t prove it yet.

Why is this paper important? Because over the past 50+ years nearly every man, woman and child in America has been exposed to BPA. And, to quote Scientific American,

More than 90 percent of Americans have traces in their bodies and previous studies suggest there is “universal fetal exposure.”

Thus, if BPA really does increase risk for prostate cancer, it provides one more significant point on the scorecard of those who have been trying for years to have all BPA removed from the manufacture of things like polycarbonate plastics, some paper receipts, liners of some food cans, and even some dental sealants.

Not surprisingly the American Chemisty Council (a chemical industry trade group) was all over this paper, saying that “the model of implanting the stem cells into mice has not been established to be valid”; that the study has “very limited relevance to real-life human exposures to BPA;” and that “The [BPA] levels tested are more than 1,000 times higher than typical human exposures.”

You probably get the idea that there is a sociopolitical undercurrent to this research. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink has no intention of getting in the middle of this argument. We just report the news!

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