Cash Register Receipt Chemical Tied to Prostate Cancer

Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 04:17 PM

By Nick Tate

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Even low levels of bisphenol A (BPA) — the chemical in cash register receipts and many plastic containers — can cause cellular changes in prostate cancer tumors and may be a marker of the disease that turns up in men's urine, according to new research by the Cincinnati Cancer Center.
 
The findings, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, provide the first evidence that urinary BPA levels may help predict prostate cancer and that the ubiquitous chemical — used to hard, clear plastics — may cause tumor growth in the prostate.
 
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"Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in North America, and one in six men will develop it over their lifetime," said lead researcher Shuk-mei Ho, director of the Cincinnati Cancer Center and an environmental-health professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
 
"However, the cancer is rarely diagnosed in men under the age of 40 with almost two-thirds of cases reported in men at age 65. Major contributing factors other than age are race and family history, whereas little is known about the impact of endocrine disruptors on prostate cancer."
 
She noted human exposure to BPA is common — with more than 90 percent of Americans coming in contact with products made with the chemical, which can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled, and ingested in food and water. Animal studies have shown that the chemical contributes to development of prostate cancer, but human research has been scarce, Ho added.
 
"As an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen and thyroid hormones, BPA also acts as a metabolic and immune disruptor," said Ho. "The adverse health effects of BPA are extensive, and studies in animals have proven this."
 
For the new study, researchers assessed the PSA of 60 urology patients using urine samples. Higher levels of BPA were found in prostate cancer patients than in non-prostate cancer patients, and the difference was most significant in patients less than 65 years of age.
 
Additionally, researchers examined prostate cells — normal and cancerous — and found those exposed to low doses of BPA underwent cellular changes that can give rise to prostate cancer.
 
"All of these findings reveal a previously unknown relationship between BPA exposure and prostate cancer and suggest a mechanism underlying the role of BPA in cellular transformation and disease progression," Ho said. "With this insight, we hope to further investigate ways we can decrease exposures to potentially cancerous-causing chemicals in every day products and substances and reduce the onset of prostate cancer in men."
 
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

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