In particular, the study showed that the
affected class of prostate cancer cells, characterized by mutated
receptors for androgens, the male hormone, can proliferate in response
"The results may have implications for
men who develop BPA-susceptible mutations in their androgen receptor
genes during the course of prostate cancer treatment, although these
concepts will need to be verified in animal systems," according to Dr.
Knudsen, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology,
Neurobiology and Anatomy and UC's Center for Environmental Genetics.
Scientists estimate that anywhere from 8 to 25 percent of all prostate cancer patients may fall into this category.
In the U.S. alone this year, almost
220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The disease is the
second most common type of cancer found in American men, and
approximately 29,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year.
Many cases of prostate cancer depend on
androgens like testosterone for tumor growth and cancer cell
proliferation, says Dr. Knudsen. A common treatment for prostate cancer
includes limiting testosterone synthesis. Patients with mutated
androgen receptors may not respond to this therapy and according to
this new study, exposure to BPA among these patients could potentially
put them at higher risk for increased cancer cell growth.
"The results we see in cell culture in
response to BPA are ready to be moved to appropriate animal models
next," says Dr. Knudsen.
The effect of the environmental
non-steroidal BPA on human prostate cancer tumor implants in laboratory
models will shed additional light on whether the synthetic
pseudo-estrogen encourages tumor growth in whole systems.
The safety of BPA has been under intense
debate for several years. Some argue that exposure to the chemical
among humans is safe; others contend that it may promote the growth of
human tumor cells and alter the growth and development of animals.
Also participating in the study were
Yelena Wetherill, PhD, Nicola Fisher and Ann Staubach, all with the
Univer-sity of Cincinnati; Mark Danielsen, PhD, Georgetown University,
Washington, D.C.; and Ralph De Vere White, MD, the University of