BPA May Influence Development of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Exposure to BPA observed to increase signaling that caused cancer growth.

While inflammatory breast cancer only accounts for 1% to 5% of breast cancers diagnosed in the United States, it is known to be particularly aggressive and resistant to treatment. This particular cancer tends to be diagnosed frequently in younger patients.

In a new study published by Carcinogensis, the authors discovered that bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in many plastic containers, increased the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signaling pathway in inflammatory breast cancer cells.

“The study is the first to show that BPA increased signaling through receptors that communicate with the MAPK pathway and that the presence of BPA may lead to resistance to cancer drugs targeting this pathway,” said senior author Gayathri Devi, PhD. “In our cell models, more signaling led to increased growth of the cancer cells.”

Previous studies have found that BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals may play a role in breast cancer development. However, in the new study, the authors evaluated a possible mechanism behind how proliferation occurs and which chemicals are involved.

The authors exposed inflammatory breast cancer cells to 6 endocrine-disrupting chemicals found commonly in food, medications, and agricultural products.

BPA, trichloroethane (HPTE), and methoxychlor were observed to increase signaling to epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), which lie on the cell surface, according to the study.

Even when cells were exposed to low doses of BPA, EGFR activation was observed to nearly double and cause signaling to MAPK to also increase. The greater signaling of both pathways, in turn, increased cancer cell growth.

Interestingly, BPA exposure was also associated with limited efficacy of drugs used to kill cancer cells through EGFR signaling.

“When EGFR-targeted, anti-cancer drugs are unable to decrease the amount of EGFR signaling, it leads to less cell death,” said study co-author Steven Patierno, PhD. “This suggests that chemical exposure could help generate a type of breast cancer that might be resistant to the very drugs we use to treat it.”

These findings have added to the growing evidence of the mechanisms behind aggressive inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

Additionally, the research provides further reasons why individuals should make an effort to avoid BPA-containing products, such as plastic containers. Other studies have shown that BPA can affect the brain, blood pressure, behavior, and the prostate glands of children, the Mayo Clinic reported.

If confirmed in additional studies, these recent findings may help researchers create a novel treatment effective against IBC.

“Ultimately, we hope that this kind of work will help us develop more effective treatments for IBC, so that survival rates improve,” Dr Devi concluded.