On 13 August 2021, the PGH Biobank was represented at a press conference held by the College of Science UP Diliman to talk about their involvement in a recent publication entitled Elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl substances in breast cancer patients within the Greater Manila Area.
The recent study entitled Elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl substances in breast cancer patients within the Greater Manila Area, aimed to analyze the effect of 41 endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on Filipino women by obtaining urine and blood samples of 150 participants with a mean age of
45.8 years old (50% were patients with breast cancer and the other 50% were patients with no breast cancer), to establish baseline data on EDC exposures in Filipino women. EDCs are known to disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system, causing a variety of health issues.
After analyzing EDC concentrations, the study highlighted high Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) exposure in participants with breast cancer. Participants with breast cancer who resided in Region IV-A were further noted to have high exposure to long-chain PFAS, suggesting that individuals living in this region may be at a higher risk of PFAS exposure compared to those in NCR. PFAS or Forever Chemicals, are man-made chemicals used in various industries such as food packaging, non-stick cookware, stain-and water-repellant fabrics, paints, cosmetics. They are considered a threat to public and environmental health due to its nature of being a persistent organic pollutant (POPs) and being positively associated with breast cancer occurrence. Significantly enough, participants with breast cancer who worked in factories showed higher PFOSA exposure, compared to those who did not work in such an environment.
With the Philippines having the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia and the apparent lack of data regarding EDC exposures in humans, in Southeast Asia, specifically the Philippines, the researchers provided baseline data on the levels of EDC exposures in Filipinas. This study hopes to inspire the need for a biomonitoring program in the country, to hopefully strictly regulate the use of long-chain PFAS.
This study, headed by UP Diliman Professor Dr. Michael Velarde, is a collaborative project between UP Diliman Institute of Biology (UPD-IB), UP Manila Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) through Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-Philippine-California
Advanced Research Institutes (PCARI). Additional information on the press conference may be obtained at the UP Diliman College of Science Website.