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Chemicals in Plastics May Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer

A chemical found in babies’ bottles, as well as many other plastics, has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, warns scientists.

In experiments, newborn rats were fed bisphenol A, which is a building block of many commonly used plastics.  The results showed that these rats were more likely to develop pre-cancerous cells as they aged.  Scientists have agreed that rats have chemical levels similar to those commonly found in the human body, and researchers said the findings of the bisphenol A study are directly relevant to babies’ health.

Recently, the Food Standards Agency said that bisphenol A does not carry a risk; however, this most recent study clearly shows that the compound is linked to cancer.  And bisphenol A is found in many of our plastics, including CD cases, tin can linings, sunglasses, plastic knives and forks, mobile phones, and dental sealants.

The American researchers showed that the newborn rats that were fed bisphenol A were more likely to develop cellular damage that can lead to prostate cancer later in life.  And, according to University of Illinois researcher Gail Prins, “There was no difference in the number of lesions, whether the bisphenol A was given by injection or orally, the prostate pathology was the same.  It mattered nothing which way it was given.”

This statement is important because it suggests that the latest research findings are revealing that the damage seen in experiments may span to how we access it through food and drink.

Dr. Prins wrote in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, “These findings on prostate health are directly relevant to humans at current bisphenol A exposure levels…[and] support the proposal that exposures to bisphenol A during fetal and neonatal life may increase the risk of carcinogenic events during adult life and in the human population.”

Elizabeth Salter Green, of the Chemicals, Health and Environment Monitoring Trust, seems to uphold the findings of the study and suggests, “Responsible governments need to find alternatives to bisphenol A as so many consumer products are made using this chemical and we are all constantly exposed.”

Other campaigners are urging people to use bisphenol A-free baby bottles, cut down on their use of canned foods, and opt for glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers when possible.  In addition, those who are concerned with the findings of the recent bisphenol A rat study should avoid heating foods, including baby meals, in polycarbonate plastic food containers as the chemical has been known to leak out of plastics at high temperatures.

Despite the campaign against bisphenol A, the Prostate Cancer Charity urged people not to worry, citing information that the chemical breaks down much more quickly in the human body than in a rat.  In fact, Dr. Kate Holmes of the charity said, “This is a field of research that remains highly controversial.  Bisphenol A is still considered to be a safe product for use by the food industry and the exposure of humans to this product is considered to be minimal.”

Dr. Holmes insists that the best way to take control of a man’s overall health is to maintain a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables while engaging in a physically active lifestyle.  She says, “Moving away from a diet rich in meat and saturated fat will improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, as well as possibly helping to prevent prostate cancer.”

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May 2012
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