Science Update: A Dangerous Disruption
Read full coverage of the 2010 Annual Meeting from AAAS.org and Science.
There's more troubling news about bisphenol A:
The chemical compound is used in the production of some plastics--look for those with recycling symbol #7. In an interview with Science Update, AAAS's 60-second radio show, neuroendocrinologist Heather Patisaul of North Carolina State University says bisphenol A exposure disrupts reproductive development in both rats and humans.
"What happens with our rats is they go through puberty too early," Patisaul said, "and this mirrors what we’re seeing in girls in the U.S., where the age of puberty is getting lower."
Patisaul spoke at a symposium Saturday at the AAAS Annual Meeting on the consequences of endocrine disupting agents.
In a separate symposium, researchers explored the link between bisphenol A and other synthetic chemicals with breast cancer.
The researchers are examining "critical windows" of breast tissue development, to find out when and how chemicals might prompt the development of cancer. Breast cancer "can take years to develop," said Suzanne Fenton, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health, which may mean that some cancers have their roots in early toxic exposures.
At the same time, scientists need to know more about exactly which chemicals have the potential to be toxic for breast cells. Some agents that mimic the actions of estrogen are known to cause cancer, according to California Environmental Protection Agency scientist Lauren Zeise. But she warned that there are many other chemically-driven pathways to cancer, and it can be difficult to test for these pathways when "we are exposed to any particular agent in a sea of chemicals."
Recent regulatory changes in the European Union, which require the chemical industry to disclose more of the properties and hazards of their products, could result in a flood of new data to help solve some of these problems, the panelists agreed.