BPA Substitute, BPS, Is Itself An Endocrine-Disrupter & May Increase Aggressiveness Of Breast Cancer

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In a very unsurprising bit of news, it turns out that the BPA (bisphenol A) substitute used in many “BPA-Free” products, BPS (bisphenol S), is itself an endocrine-disrupting compound that may increase the aggressiveness of various types of cancer (breast cancer, etc.), according to new research.

I say “unsurprising” here because if one chemical compound is similar enough to another one to function in a similar way and serve as a substitute … it would certainly follow that the possibility was there that the same dangers would be present (and that there simply wasn’t the research conducted yet to show the health dangers, and thus no liability). Watching people take the words “BPA-Free” in recent times as a sign that the product was “safe” was more than a bit bizarre to me.

As a reminder here, just as BPA was and still is widely used in plastics, thermal paper receipts, and some currencies, so is BPS. To reiterate that last point, skin absorption via the handling of thermal paper receipts is a major source of exposure to BPA (and presumably BPS as well).

“Despite hopes for a safer alternative to BPA, studies have shown BPS to exhibit similar estrogen-mimicking behavior to BPA,” commented the study’s principal investigator, Sumi Dinda, PhD, associate professor at Oakland University School of Health Sciences, Rochester, Michigan.

The new research further confirmed this: “So far, BPS seems to be a potent endocrine disruptor.”

The press release provides more:

He and his colleagues studied the effects of BPS on estrogen receptor-alpha and the BRCA1 gene. Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive, and, according to the National Cancer Institute, 55% to 65% of women who inherit a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 gene will develop breast cancer.

Using two commercially available breast cancer cell lines obtained from women with estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer, the research team exposed the cancer cells to varying strengths of BPS or to an inactive substance as a control. The investigators also treated the breast cancer cells with estradiol (estrogen) and found that BPS acted like estrogen in multiplying breast cancer cells, Dinda said. Compared with the control, BPS heightened the protein expression in estrogen receptor and BRCA1 after 24 hours, as did estrogen. After a 6-day treatment with BPS, the breast cancer cells in both cell lines reportedly increased in number by 12% at the lowest dose (4 micromolars) and by 60% at 8 micromolars.

The research team then blocked the BPS-induced proliferation of breast cancer cells by treating the cells with anti-estrogen drugs, which are used to block estrogen’s action onto estrogen binding proteins (estrogen receptors) in breast cancer cells. Dinda said their findings suggest that BPS may cause breast cancer to become more aggressive.

Dinda’s conclusion was that “if a woman has a mutated BRAC1 gene and uses products containing BPS, her risk for developing breast cancer may increase further” — something to keep in mind. Given BPS’s general behavior as an endocrine disrupter, though, the implications of the new research are of course far broader.

Image via Hello Charlie

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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