Does BPA exposure in utero increase a young girl's chances of developing breast cancer later in life? A new study adds to the growing body of BPA research that indicates this may be the case.
The study, released yesterday in the journal Molecular Endocrinology
, evaluated the offspring of lab mice mothers that were exposed to "environmentally relevant" amounts of BPA. Researchers found that the chemical may 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."
For the study, researchers looked at the female offspring of mice that were exposed to BPA via drinking water while they were pregnant and nursing. They found that the mice born of mothers that were exposed to BPA developed mammary glands with an increased sensitivity to the hormone progesterone. Progesterone exposure is linked to the development of breast cancer.
Could this change be enough to increase a young girl's chances of developing breast cancer later in life? It's too soon to tell, but in the meantime, it makes sense to take precautions and avoid exposure to BPA — particularly if you are pregnant or nursing.