The chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, appears to aid the survival of inflammatory breast cancer cells, revealing a potential mechanism for how the disease grows, according to a study led by researchers in the Department of Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine and the Duke Cancer Institute.

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the most lethal and fastest-growing form of breast cancer and quickly develops resistance to treatments.

Reporting in the March issue of the journal Carcinogenesis, senior author Gayathri Devi, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at Duke, and co-investigators found that bisphenol A increased the cell signaling pathway known as mitogen-activated protein kinases, or MAPK, in inflammatory breast cancer cells.

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Inflammatory breast cancer is an especially aggressive form of cancer which is stimulated by many different growth factors. The fact that BPA is one of these triggers is not surprising, since multiple studies have found that BPA causes cancer in lab tests. Although research has not conclusively shown that BPA directly causes human cancers, my suspicion is that it does. And if it causes cancer, it is also likely to stimulate the growth of cancer. I recommend that you avoid plastic use as much as possible, and if you must use plastic, always go for the BPA free variety. Absolutely avoid storing food in plastic containers, and never heat plastic or eat food which was heated in plastic.