BPA has been in the news as a carcinogen many times in the past several years, yet a recent study published in Endocrinology shows yet another potential problem associated with BPA exposure, and this time it is for fetal exposure. According to the University of Illinois at Chicago study, fetal exposure to this common plasticizer can increase an individual’s risk of prostate cancer in later life. BPA mimics the chemical makeup of estrogen, which may be the reason it increases the risk of prostate cancer when babies are exposed to it in the womb. The levels of BPA exposure do not have to be high, either.
The day-to-day levels of BPA exposure were sufficient to raise the prostate cancer risk. In the study, Prins implanted human prostate stem cells into mice, then fed the mice BPA in amounts typical of those seen in pregnant women. The cells grew humanized prostate tissue, which was then allowed to mature for one month. At that time, the mice were given estrogen to mimic the hormonal change in older males and one of the risk factors for prostate cancer. The Results After a period of two to four months, the tissue was collected and analyzed. One third of the tissue samples had cancer or pre-cancerous lesions, compared to only 12% in a control group that was not fed BPA. If the cells had an additional exposure to BPA before implantation, a full 45% developed pre-cancerous lesions or cancer. In conclusion of the study, Prins theorized that the BPA must pre-program the stem cells to have a greater sensitivity to estrogen, thus putting men at a higher risk of prostatic disease later in life.
Avoiding BPA Is Difficult
The logical answer to this concern is to advise pregnant women to avoid exposure to BPA. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to do so. Gail Prins, who directed the UIC study, indicated that previous studies have found BPA in the urine of individuals who were conciously avoiding all BPA-containing objects for a month. Since the chemical clears the body within 24 to 48 hours, this means that the individuals have come in contact with the chemical, even while purposefully avoiding it. Even still, avoiding all known causes of BPA can help pregnant women limit these risks for their babies. The good news is that prostate cancer is often less concerning than it sounds. In fact, Dr. Bert Vorstman and many other notable urologists argue that some of the more common forms of prostate cancer should not even be called cancer, as it does not behave like most cancers.