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Extracts of catfish caught in polluted waters cause breast cancer cells to multiply
Date:11/7/2007

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 7 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 being presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Washington, D.C. The abstract, number 159141, will be presented at a special session on Contaminants in Freshwater Fish: Toxicity, Sources and Risk Communication, at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7.

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 regions waterways.

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 public health.

In the study, Dr. Volz and colleagues exposed extracts of catfish to estrogen-resp
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Contact: Clare Collins
CollCX@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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