such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
November 9, 2007 — Exposing estrogen-sensitive
breast cancer cells to extracts of channel catfish caught in areas with
heavy sewer and industrial waste causes the cells to multiply,
according to a University of Pittsburgh study.
The study, which tested extracts from channel catfish caught in the
Allegheny and Monongahela rivers near Pittsburgh, suggests that the
fish, caught in areas of dense sewer overflows, contain substances that
mimic the actions of estrogen, the female hormone. Since fish are
sentinels of water quality, as the canary in the coal mine is a
sentinel of air pollution, and can concentrate fat soluble chemicals
from their habitats within their bodies, these results suggest that
pharmaceutical estrogens and xeno-estrogenic chemicals, those that
mimic estrogens in the body, may be making their way into the region's
"We believe there are vast quantities of pharmaceutical and
xeno-estrogenic waste in outflows from sewage treatment plants and from
sewer overflows, and that these chemicals end up concentrated and
magnified in channel catfish from contaminated areas," said Conrad D.
Volz, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., principal investigator, department of
environmental and occupational health, University of Pittsburgh
Graduate School of Public Health. Sewer overflows result from
inadequate sewer infrastructure, which releases raw, untreated sewage
directly into area rivers during wet weather, according to Dr. Volz.
"In Pittsburgh alone, 16 billion gallons of raw, untreated sewage are
deposited into area rivers every year with major implications for
In the study, Dr. Volz and colleagues exposed extracts of catfish to
estrogen-responsive and estrogen non-responsive human breast cancer
cells. They found that catfish extracts caused the estrogen-responsive
breast cancer cells to multiply by binding to and activating estrogen
receptors -- the proteins within cells that render the cells sensitive
to estrogen -- but had no effect on the estrogen negative cell line.
Extracts of fish caught in areas heavily polluted by industrial and
municipal wastes resulted in the greatest amount of cell growth. This
growth occurred regardless of the sex of the fish.
According to Dr. Volz, the next step in this research is to identify
the specific estrogenic chemicals and their sources in the local water
and fish. "These findings have significant public health implications,
since we drink water from the rivers where the fish were caught.
Additionally, the consumption of river-caught fish, especially by
semi-subsistence anglers, may increase their risks for
endocrine-related health issues and developmental problems," said Dr.
This research was presented at the annual meeting of the American
Public Health Association in Washington, D.C. at a special session on
"Contaminants in Freshwater Fish: Toxicity, Sources and Risk
Communication," on Nov. 7, 2007.
The study was funded by grants from the Highmark Foundation, the DSF
Charitable Trust and the Heinz Endowments. Co-authors of the study
include Yan Liu, Christopher Price, Mary Elm, Devra Davis, Ph.D.,
Maryann Donovan, Ph.D., and Patricia Eagon, Ph.D., all with the
University of Pittsburgh.
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