BPA stimulates growth of breast cancer cells, diminishes effect of treatment

3D chemical structure of bisphenol A. Credit: Edgar181 via Wikimedia Commons

Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly used in plastics, appears to increase the proliferation of breast cancer cells, according to Duke Medicine researchers presenting at an annual meeting of endocrine scientists.

The researchers found that the chemical, at levels typically found in human blood, could also affect growth of an aggressive hormone-independent subtype of cells called inflammatory breast cancer and diminish the effectiveness of treatments for the disease.

"We set out to determine whether routine exposures to common chemicals such as those in plastics, pesticides and insecticides could influence the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments," said corresponding author Gayathri Devi, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at Duke. "BPA was one of the top chemicals to show growth stimulatory effects in breast cancer cells."

Devi and colleagues reported their findings in a featured abstract at the annual joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago, June 23, 2014.

Using new screening strategies, the researchers evaluated a panel of compounds available through a public library of chemicals managed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The researchers focused on markers in breast cancer cells, specifically those of inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of disease that is difficult to treat.

Screenings identified several agents that appeared to increase the proliferation of cells. Among the most active was BPA, a chemical known to disrupt hormones. The researchers found that it caused breast cancer cells to grow at a faster rate in both estrogen-receptor positive and estrogen-receptor negative .

The researchers also found that BPA doses in the range observed in lowered the efficacy of FDA-approved anti-cancer drugs used in breast cancer therapy, notably lapatinib.

"These studies provide the foundation for additional research to develop tools that can be used to identify patients who may be at greater risk of developing treatment resistance," Devi said. "The findings could also lead to biomarkers that identify patients who have heavy exposure to compounds that could diminish the effectiveness of their cancer therapy."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Molecular imaging finds novel way to knock down breast cancer

Jun 09, 2014

For years researchers have been developing molecular imaging techniques that visualize hormonally active breast cancer cells—specifically those testing positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). A recent ...

Recommended for you

US women's awareness of breast density varies

3 hours ago

Disparities in the level of awareness and knowledge of breast density exist among U.S. women, according to the results of a Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Study shows why some brain cancers resist treatment

3 hours ago

Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center may have discovered why some brain cancer patients develop resistance to standard treatments including radiation and the chemotherapy agent temozolomide.

Researchers identify genes responsible for lung tumors

5 hours ago

The lung transcription factor Nkx2-1 is an important gene regulating lung formation and normal respiratory functions after birth. Alterations in the expression of this transcription factor can lead to diseases such as lung ...

Lycopene may ward off kidney cancer in older women

7 hours ago

A higher intake by postmenopausal women of the natural antioxidant lycopene, found in foods like tomatoes, watermelon and papaya, may lower the risk of renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.