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Environ Health Perspect. 1997 April; 105(Suppl 3): 625–632.
PMCID: PMC1469907
Research Article

Estrogenic and DNA-damaging activity of Red No. 3 in human breast cancer cells.


Exposure to pesticides, dyes, and pollutants that mimic the growth promoting effects of estrogen may cause breast cancer. The pesticide DDT and the food colorant Red No. 3 were found to increase the growth of HTB 133 but not estrogen receptor (ER) negative human breast cells (HTB 125) or rat liver epithelial cells (RLE). Red No. 3, beta-estradiol, and DDT increase ER site-specific DNA binding to the estrogen response element in HTB 133 cells and increase cyclin-dependent kinase 2 activity in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Site-specific DNA binding by p53 in RLE, HTB 125, HTB 133, and MCF-7 cells was increased when they were treated with Red No. 3, which suggests that cellular DNA was damaged by this colorant. Red No. 3 increased binding of the ER from MCF-7 cells to the estrogen-responsive element. Consumption of Red No. 3, which has estrogenlike growth stimulatory properties and may be genotoxic, could be a significant risk factor in human breast carcinogenesis.

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