Prins et al. (2010) BPA and Prostate Cancer in Rats

October 16, 2010 at 11:13 am | Posted in Analysis | 2 Comments


Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer with Gleeson pattern. (Image: Nephron, Wikimedia Commons.)


The Daily Mail (UK) recently covered a new study (Prins et al. 2010) finding that when male rats are exposed prenatally to low doses of BPA, they are more likely when they became adults to develop precancerous PIN lesions in the prostate gland.

The study is important for two other reasons. Firstly, the levels in the rats are comparable to the levels generally seen in people today.

Secondly, Prins’ team experimented with different exposure routes, both feeding the rats BPA orally, and dosing them with subcutaneous injections. Both routes produced the same PIN lesion effect.

This is important because for the purposes of determining BPA’s safety, human dosing is assumed to be oral. Experiments based on dosing test animals by injection have therefore been discounted in determining the safe levels of exposure for people.

Finally, in the article a cancer charity is described as “[urging] people not to worry, saying that bisphenol A breaks down much more quickly in the human body than in a rat”. However, a recently published study by Taylor et al. (2010) has found this not to be the case.

Additionally, BPA exposure is more-or-less continuous, found in about 90% of the population at any given time: it doesn’t matter how quickly BPA breaks down if you are ingesting it as quickly as you clear it.

The charity goes on to say that a healthy diet is the most important means for men to prevent prostate cancer and that BPA is considered safe by the food industry. Commenting in this way on Prins et al. is arguable on two points:

  1. Diet is an important risk factor for prostate cancer, but Prins at al. are looking at how neonatal exposure changes adult risk of cancer, so discussion of diet misses the point;
  2. Finally, and rather obviously, BPA is considered safe by many (though not all) players in the food industry… but the same could equally be said about cigarettes and the tobacco industry.

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  1. […] New research has found that rats exposed neonatally to BPA were more likely as adults to develop pre-cancerous lesions on the prostate gland (Prins et al 2010). The research was heavily criticised by a cancer charity; we point out some of the more positive aspects of the paper here. […]

  2. […] för från exempelvis förpackningar och tandmaterial, mm.:  Slutsatsen måste bli att gravida bör sättas i bisfenol-karantän och undvika såväl  […]

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