Kristen Battige

Bisphenol-A and Breast Cancer: A Feasibility and Pilot Study

BPA is an environmental endocrine disruptor that has been associated with a number of adverse health effects due to its ability to mimic endogenous hormones and is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in both developed and developing countries. Studies conducted thus far investigating the association between BPA and breast cancer have shown equivocal results and have been limited by an inability to measure the exposures directly in breast tissue as well as the lack of consideration of important breast cancer subtypes. This is a pilot and feasibility study with a primary aim to explore BPA levels in breast tissue and urine of women with and without cancer. It consists of five main objectives: to assess the feasibility of collecting and storing biological samples relevant to molecular epidemiology in a developing country; to describe BPA levels in the target population; to examine if BPA levels are associated with breast cancer or breast cancer subtype; to determine if BPA can be measured in breast tissues in this population; and to examine epigenetic differences between subjects.

This study is being conducted in Tanta, Egypt at the Gharbiah Cancer Society and Tanta Cancer Center. At the end of recruitment it will include 25 women with breast cancer undergoing modified radical mastectomies and 25 women without breast cancer undergoing surgery for benign breast lesions. Residual tissue, fat, and tumor samples are being collected from the subject surgeries. The subjects also provide urine and saliva samples and are administered a questionnaire to assess breast cancer risk factors and possible BPA exposures. Tissue and urine samples will be analyzed for BPA; saliva and tissue samples will be analyzed to examine the effects of BPA on the epigenome.

Access to liquid nitrogen in Egypt and conventional freezing equipment as well as the ability to keep the samples at cold enough temperature once frozen has proven to be difficult due to policy changes on liquid nitrogen, the absence of a -80oC freezer, and the warm Egyptian temperature. To remedy this problem a liquid nitrogen container is being transported to Tanta in which the samples will be flash frozen and stored. A liquid nitrogen supply has been confirmed as well. BPA and molecular analysis are on hold until all samples have been collected.

This study will explore the feasibility of collecting and freezing biological samples in developing countries such as Egypt. It will also provide insight into the possibility of sequestration as a viable pathway for BPA and will help to further our understanding of the effects of xenoestrogens on breast cancer as well as the fate of BPA upon entry into the body.

About Kristen
Kristen Battige is originally from northern Michigan and attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate career. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science majoring in Biology and minoring in Moral and Political Philosophy. She graduated from the University of Michigan School of Public Health with an MPH in Environmental Health Sciences Department with a concentration in Environmental Quality and Health and a Certificate in Global Health in the spring of 2011.