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Two 'safe' levels of toxins in your food and environment double prostate cancer risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
2 environmental chemicals, even at safe levels, may double prostate cancer risk.

Texas University researchers have found arsenic that occur naturally in the soil and in our drinking water but is also found in foods we consume and estrogen that comes from plastics doubled the chances of prostate cancer in lab cells, even at levels deemed 'safe' from health risks. Arsenic and estrogen that comes from BPA seem to interfere with the body's ability to get rid of prostate cancer cells when they develop.

Proponents of clean air, water and untainted food have been advocating that environmental exposure to toxins, even at levels we are told are safe can add up to cause cancer. BPA in plastics permeate the environment and leach into the ground, our food and has become increasingly detectable in human urine samples

The EPA sets standards of supposed safe levels of carcinogens that humans can tolerate without adverse health risks.

Researchers for the new study explain testing of carcinogens in the environment is carried out for single agents. But environmental groups have suggested for years that most of us are exposed to a variety of cancer causing agents daily, making it important to look at the whole picture.

Cancer can be hereditary, but only accounts for 5 to 10 percent of cases, which is why some researchers are focusing on other causes of cancer that go beyond genetic predisposition.

Arsenic has also been found in rice and beer. In September, 2012, the FDA released results of arsenic testing in more than 200 rice samples that included total and inorganic levels that caused concern to consumers due to high levels.

Endocrinologists have been advocating getting BPA out of the environment because it is a known hormone disruptor that can put human health at risk from increased risk of obesity, miscarriages, infertility and increased risk of asthma in kids from pre-natal exposure, heightened risk of Down Syndrome, heart disease in women, erectile dysfunction, child developmental problems, aggressiveness in kids and more.

We are exposed to BPA (bisphenol-A) daily from all sorts of consumer products, some of which may surprise you.

BPA lurks in :

  • Grocery store receipts
  • Dental sealants
  • Can linings
  • Pizza boxes
  • Some toilet papers
  • Some wines

In 2009, Consumer Reports found even cancer marked “BPA-free” contained some of the chemical.

Yet, the American Chemistry Council staunchly defends its position that BPA is safe, saying the chemical “..is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today and has a safety track record of 50 years.”

In December, 2011 Dr. Mehmet Oz found high levels of arsenic in several popular brands of apple juice. After he revealed the findings on his show, the FDA negated the finding, saying their own testing did not find the same levels of the carcinogen as Dr. Oz’s laboratory.

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Later, Consumer Reports conducted a study, supporting that there are indeed higher levels of arsenic in apple juice than that detected by the FDA, which in turn forced the governmental agency to take a closer look at the issue.

Lead study author Kamaleshwar Singh, an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech and his team have confirmed when estrogen and arsenic are combined, low doses of both chemicals that we are told are ‘safe’ cause cancer in prostate cells.

The current finding that two environmental chemicals double the risk of prostate cancer raises questions about ‘safe’ standards of carcinogens that are permitted in our food, water, personal care products, in the air and for use in agriculture that we are exposed to every day.

“Science has looked at these chemicals, such as arsenic, and tested them in a lab to find the amounts that may cause cancer. But that’s just a single chemical in a single test. In the real world, we are getting exposed to many chemicals at once,” Singh said in a press release.

The study

For their experiment, published in the peer-reviewed journal “The Prostate”, Singh and is doctoral student, Justin Treas, decided to find out how arsenic that is prevalent in well-water India, Mexico and other areas might contribute to cancer when it is paired with estrogen, which is another known cancer causing chemical.

Arsenic has also been found in high levels in chicken from pesticides in the food fed to the birds.

Singh said arsenic and estrogen, unlike other chemicals, don’t cause DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Instead, they prevent DNA hypermethylation or the expression of certain genes.

For their experiment the researchers exposed lab cells to levels of either arsenic, estrogen or a combination of the two for a six-month period that the Environmental Protection Agency says are safe.

Estrogen and arsenic together interrupted normal cell signaling to the MLH1 gene that would normally rid the body of cancer once it begins.

“With the lower dose not killing the cell, it’s causing damages that go under the cell’s radar,” Treas said. “We found when you have two compounds together, lower doses could be more serious problem.”

Statistics from the American Cancer Society state 1 in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and that 1 out of 36 men will die from the disease. Approximately 238,590 cases are diagnosed each year.

The new study highlights an increased risk of prostate cancer from arsenic and estrogen combined, both of which are common in the environment. Arsenic is in our food and water and some is even in the air we breathe. BPA, an endocrine disruptor, as an estrogen-like effect in the body and has been increasingly measureable in our urine since the 1990’s.