Exposure to BPA During Pregnancy Linked to Liver Tumors

Plastic BottlesExposure to BPA during pregnancy and nursing increase the risk of developing liver tumors, suggests a new study by researchers from the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Public Health.

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a synthetic compound used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins. The addition of BPA results in plastic that is clear and durable. The chemical is found in common consumer goods such as baby and water bottles, sports equipment, and CDs and DVDs. Bisphenol A is also used as a coating inside many food and beverage cans, inside water pipes, and on thermal print receipts.

Recent studies have linked BPA to an increased risk of cancer as well as other health problems. For example, recent research from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) linked exposure to BPA during pregnancy with an increased risk of prostate cancer in male offspring.

In the present study as published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the researchers discovered that exposure to BPA during gestation and nursing increased the risk of liver tumors and cancer development in offspring.

Explains Caren Weinhouse, U-M doctoral student in the School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the first author on the paper, “We found that 27 percent of the mice exposed to one of three different doses of BPA through their mother’s diet developed liver tumors and some precancerous lesions. The higher the dosage, the more likely they were to present with tumors.”

Using a rodent model, the researchers exposed mother mice to BPA. The offspring of the mothers who received the highest doses of the chemical — 50 mgilligrams of BPA per killigram of weight — were seven times more likely to develop tumors compared to the offspring of unexposed mothers.

The researchers do caution that additional research is necessary to determine the effects of exposure to BPA during pregnancy on human health. States Weinhouse, “This current study showing liver tumors in mice says let’s take another look at BPA and cancer in humans.”

Dana Dolinoy, the John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and the senior/corresponding author on the study, also adds that the effects of BPA on liver tumors in the present study did not discriminate based on sex: “In general, females are at lower risk of spontaneous development of liver cancer. That distinction was erased in this study, with both males and females showing tumors.”

The present findings also highlight the importance of timing in exposure to BPA. Explains Dolinoy: “A previous study that exposed adult mice to much higher doses of BPA did not show the same link to cancer development. This tells us the timing of exposure and the dosage are extremely critical in evaluating study outcomes.”

According to the most recent research, exposure to BPA appears most detrimental to health during pregnancy. Unfortunately, avoiding BPA is extremely difficult. Explains Gail Prins, aprofessor of physiology and director of the andrology laboratory at the UIC College of Medicine who was not involved in the present study:

“Previous studies have shown that people who avoided all contact with plastics or other BPA-containing objects for up to a month or more still had BPA in their urine, which means they must have come into contact with BPA in the last 24 to 48 hours, since it clears the body rather quickly. It’s very hard to avoid.”

Although more research is needed on the effects of exposure to BPA during pregnancy, the evidence appears to support the hypothesis that BPA negatively affects human health.


Exposure to BPA linked to liver tumors in mice:
Liver tumors found in mice exposed to BPA:

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