Previous studies have linked Bisphenol A (BPA) to migraines and miscarriages, but a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago have found a link between exposure to low levels of BPA during early development and the development of prostate cancer later in life.

In the study, researchers implanted prostate stem cells from deceased young men into mice, and then fed the mice BPA for the first two weeks of life. The amount of BPA given to mice was relatively the same as those commonly seen in pregnant women. Thirty-three percent of the stem cells in mice who were fed BPA had cancerous or precancerous lesions later in life. Mice produced cancerous or precancerous lesions in 45% of tissue samples when the stem cells were exposed to BPA before and after the stem cells were implanted in the mice. Comparatively, only 12% of mice who were fed harmless oil instead of BPA were found to have cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions.

“We know that stem cells help replenish our organs throughout life. We propose that if there is exposure early in life to an estrogenic compound – such as BPA – it reprograms our stem cells,” said Gail Prins, lead author of the study.

BPA is an industrial chemical that is widely used to soften plastics and can be found in clear plastic bottles, containers used to store food, and some sports equipment. BPA is in an industrial chemical that can be found in clear plastic bottles, containers used to store food, and some sports equipment. BPA can leach into water or food as the plastic breaks down, especially when the bottle is heated. One way to lower your exposure to BPA? Switch to a bottleless water cooler.