New research into BPA and prostate cancer

Dr Kate Holmes, Research Manager at The Prostate Cancer Charity, explains: "The effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the production of plastic packaging for food and drink, and its possible impact on health has been the subject of debate for some time. This new study looking at the effects of the chemical in rats has produced some complex results.

"The researchers have shown that those rats exposed to BPA as newborns in a concentration similar to that detected in humans, had an increased chance of developing early cancerous changes in their prostate cells than those rats that were not exposed to BPA as newborns. All the rats were subsequently given a treatment to induce cancerous changes in the prostate at seven months of age. It is important to remember these results do not suggest that any man who comes into contact with BPA will develop prostate cancer.

"Humans break down BPA at a much faster rate than rats, meaning that whilst the rats may have been exposed to an equivalent level of the chemical, this compound would actually remain in their system for longer which may lead to more harmful effects. This research was conducted on rats that were subsequently exposed to hormone treatments which are used to initiate cancerous changes in the prostate of rats. As with any studies in animals, there is much more to be learned before we can make the leap from the laboratory and into practical advice for men - we cannot assume that humans will have the same response to the chemical as rats and we already know humans have a different mechanism of breaking the chemical down.

"We do not yet understand enough about the causes of prostate cancer but we certainly wouldn't want men to worry about BPA increasing their risk of prostate cancer based on this research. This is a field of research that remains highly controversial. BPA 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. The message to any man wishing to take control of his overall health is clear - a diet rich in fruit and vegetables combined with a physically active lifestyle gives you the best chance of protecting your long-term health. 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," Dr Holmes added.