Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial plasticizer that leaches from food containers during normal usage, leading to human exposure. Early and chronic exposure to endocrine-disrupting environmental contaminants such as BPA elevates the potential for long-term health consequences. We examined the impact of BPA exposure on fetal programming of mammary tumor susceptibility as well as its growth promoting effects on transformed breast cancer cells in vivo. Fetal mice were exposed to 0, 25, or 250 μg/kg BPA by oral gavage of pregnant dams. Offspring were subsequently treated with the known mammary carcinogen, 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA). While no significant differences in postnatal mammary development were observed, both low- and high-dose BPA cohorts had a statistically significant increase in susceptibility to DMBA-induced tumors compared to vehicle-treated controls. To determine if BPA also promotes established tumor growth, MCF-7 human breast cancer cells were subcutaneously injected into flanks of ovariectomized NCR nu/nu female mice treated with BPA, 17beta-estradiol, or placebo alone or combined with tamoxifen. Both estradiol- and BPA-treated cohorts formed tumors by 7 wk post-transplantation, while no tumors were detected in the placebo cohort. Tamoxifen reversed the effects of estradiol and BPA. We conclude that BPA may increase mammary tumorigenesis through at least two mechanisms: molecular alteration of fetal glands without associated morphological changes and direct promotion of estrogen-dependent tumor cell growth. Both results indicate that exposure to BPA during various biological states increases the risk of developing mammary cancer in mice.
Exposure to bisphenol A during fetal life increases mammary tumor susceptibility and during adult life promotes growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancers.