A new study suggests that early exposure to a chemical found in hard, clear plastics and the linings of cans may cause changes in breast tissue, predisposing laboratory animals to breast cancer.
The study, released yesterday in the journal Molecular Endocrinology, adds to a growing body of evidence showing that small amounts of the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, can cause irreparable damage to developing animals.
“I want it to be clear that we do not provide evidence that BPA exposure causes breast cancer per se,” said Cathrin Brisken of the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, co-author of the study. “We do provide evidence that BPA exposure alters mammary gland development and that this may increase the predisposition of the breast to breast cancer.”
However, Steve Hentges, spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, a plastics industry lobbying group, was not so sure.
He said there were experimental limitations, including differences in the ways different litters responded, and he underscored the authors’ assertions that the study does not show a direct link between the chemical and breast cancer.
“Regardless of the experimental limitations, the relevance of the findings to breast cancer in humans is uncertain,” he said.
The study examined female offspring of mice exposed to environmentally relevant amounts of BPA while pregnant and nursing. The mother mice were dosed with the chemical through drinking water.