Chemicals that are used to manufacture and produce products that we use in our daily lives are constantly being linked to various health conditions and troubles. You may already know this, as we have previously written of the dangers of bisphenol A, better known as BPA, a common chemical ingredient in plastics and food-can linings, etc.
Now, another chemical may be a cause of cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease, and that chemical is hiding in all sorts of common consumer products, from the pans you cook with, the clothes you wear, to the paper products you write on and the foods you eat.
For their study, researchers from West Virginia University’s School of Public Health examined the association between blood serum levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a synthetic chemical commonly used in non-stick Teflon and Gore-Tex materials, and rates of CVD and PAD, a marker of atherosclerosis. To accomplish this, they compiled data on 1,216 participants from both the 1999-2000 and the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
“Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major public health problem. Identifying novel risk factors for CVD, including widely prevalent environmental exposures, is therefore important,” according to the study background.
After accounting for outside factors that may have altered the results; such as age, sex, body mass index, and cholesterol levels, the team found that blood levels of PFOA are directly related to rates of both CVD and PAD. They also learned that a shocking 98 percent of people living in the U.S. have PFOA circulating in their bloodstream.
PFOA is not easily cleansed from the body, either, as research continues to show that PFOA remains in the bloodstream many years after initial exposure. According to one study, PFOA levels only drop by about half four years after exposure, which explains why even low levels can cause serious and chronic health problems such as miscarriage, unhealthy weight loss, thyroid dysfunction, immune damage, underdeveloped organs, and cancer.
“Our results contribute to the emerging data on health effects of PFCs [perfluoroalkyl chemicals], suggesting for the first time that PFOA exposure is potentially related to CVD and PAD,” said the study authors in their conclusion.In summary, in a representative cross-sectional sample of the U.S. population, we found that higher PFOA levels are positively associated with self-reported CVD and objectively measured PAD.”
In a commentary, Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D., M.S., of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, writes: “These results contribute to the evolving data on the adverse health effects of PFOA, suggesting that PFOA exposure may be potentially related to CVD. However, a major limitation is the cross-sectional nature of the study. Given this significant limitation, causality or the temporal nature of the association between PFOA and CVD cannot be concluded from the current analysis,” Mukherjee continues.
“Although it seems clear that additional prospective research is needed to tease out the true adverse cardiovascular effects of PFOA, given the concerns raised by this and prior studies, clinicians will need to act now. From a societal point of view, it would make sense to limit or to eliminate the use of PFOA and its congeners in industry through legislation and regulation while improving water purification and treatment techniques to try and remove this potentially toxic chemical from our water supply,” Mukherjee concludes.
The report was published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine.