Chemicals in hair products increase breast cancer cell viability in black women


Trevino L, et al. RF22 | PMON05. Presented at: ENDO Annual Meeting; June 11-14, 2022; Atlanta (hybrid meeting).

disclosures: Treviño does not report any relevant financial disclosures.

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ATLANTA — Parabens, a class of endocrine disrupting chemicals commonly found in hair and personal care products promote viability and gene expression of a breast cancer cell line in black women, according to data presented at ENDO 2022.

Researchers evaluated the effects of three types of parabens in the HCC1500 breast cancer cell line, which is typically found in black women of West African descent, and compared the effects to those seen in the MCF-7 cell line, which is typically found in white women of West African descent. European descent.

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“The HCC1500 breast cancer cell line may be more sensitive to parabens,” Lindsey S. Trevicnoh, PhD, assistant professor in the division of health equities, division of population sciences at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Los Angeles, said in a news conference. “We have two proofs for that. Butylparaben increases the viability of HCC1500, but not MCF-7, and the increase in estrogen regulating gene expression is more robust in the HCC1500 cells treated with butylparaben or propylparaben.”

Parabens are common endocrine disrupting chemicals used in cosmetic and personal care products. They are detected in nearly all adult urine samples, according to Treviño, and act similarly to estrogen in the body. While previous studies have shown that parabens can affect the proliferation, mortality, migration, metabolism and gene expression of breast cancer cells, Treviño said those studies were done with cell lines from women of European descent.

“The Environmental Working Group did a study looking at products marketed to black women and looking for ingredients with the most dangerous chemicals,” Treviño said. “Propylparaben, butylparaben and methylparaben topped the list.”

Treviño and colleagues compared the effects of exposure to propylparaben, butylparaben and methylparaben on the MCF-7 cell line, which is mainly found in women of European descent, and the HCC1500 cell line, which is mainly found in women of West African descent.

The viability of the HCC1500 cancer cell line was significantly greater when exposed to butylparabens, while no effect was observed in the MCF-7 cell line. Methylparaben and propylparaben had no significant effect on cell viability.

Exposure to butylparaben and propylparaben increased the expression of estrogen-regulated genes in both the MCF-7 and HCC1550 cell lines, with a stronger increase observed in HCC1550. Treatment with the estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780 reduced the increase in gene expression in both cell lines. However, concomitant treatment with ICI 182,780 did not affect the increased viability of butylparabens in HCC1500 cells.

The study was conducted as part of the Bench to Community Initiative, a project in which scientists and community members are devising ways to reduce exposure to parabens and other harmful chemicals in personal care products. Treviño said this is critical for black women, particularly because breast cancer incidence is higher in black women under the age of 45 compared to white women, and the breast cancer death rate in black women is about 40% higher than in black women. white women.

“Part of the Bench to Community Initiative is to educate women, to let them know that many of the products contain many of these harmful chemicals, including parabens and many others,” Treviño said. “It makes people feel empowered and get the education to make those decisions and decide if they want to replace their products.”

Treviño said the initiative is working with Black-owned companies to maintain a database of chemical-free products and help women choose which personal care products to use.

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