Here are a few informational dots about bisphenol-A, BPA, and breast cancer that are worth connecting.
*Approximately 20% of breast cancer patients have tumors that express a growth factor protein, HER 2-neu, associated with increased aggressiveness of disease and poorer overall survival.
*Bisphenol-A, BPA, is a compound that is weakly estrogenic; that is, its action is similar to the female hormone, estrogen. It is used in the manufacture of plastics. All manner of plastic products contain BPA, from sippy cups to the shiny white material that lines tin cans. More than 8 billion tons of BPA are made and used annually.
*Animal studies have repeatedly shown that exposure to low levels of BPA at a young age increases the subsequent risk for breast cancer.
*Despite compelling animal data, the FDA maintains that low levels of BPA are safe for use in humans, even babies and pregnant women.
*New research from the University of Alabama shows that BPA in LOW DOSES (but not high doses) increases growth pathways in mice with a tendency to over-express the protein, HER-2 neu.
When I connect these dots, this is what I see and fear:
We don’t know if low doses of BPA are completely safe, especially for children and pregnant women. But, nonetheless, we are swimming in a sea of it, a sea where the tide only rises, never falls.
I don’t know how much longer it will take before experts provide irrefutable proof that BPA, even in low doses, is dangerous to our health. And I don’t know how much longer it will take after this milestone is reached before guidelines and regulations change. Perhaps all we’ll ever get is a warning, or a scary picture like the ones we see on packs of cigarettes.
Alas, the polar ice caps will likely melt and refreeze before we see a change in public policy.
In the meantime, steer clear of BPA. And if you happen to be a woman with HER-2 positive breast cancer, you might want to make a fetish out of eliminating BPA from your environment altogether.
Sarah Jenkins, Jun Wang, Isam Eltoum, Renee Desmond, Coral A. Lamartiniere. Chronic Oral Exposure to Bisphenol A Results in a Non-Monotonic Dose Response in Mammary Carcinogenesis and Metastasis in MMTV-erbB2 Mice. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1103850