Early Menopause Linked to PFCs

Stable compounds with industrial and commercial uses,<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances"> PFCs’ (perfluorocarbons) ubiquity spans from many common household products such as furniture, cosmetics, and food packaging, are also found in stain-resistance coatings and fire-fighting foams. The dangerous chemicals have most recently been linked to early-onset menopause, said ABC News, citing an emerging study from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the study revealed that women with elevated PFC levels also had decreased estrogen levels versus women with low PFC levels, noted ABC News. “There is no doubt that there is an association between exposure to PFCs and onset of menopause, but the causality is unclear,” said study author, Sarah Knox, in a news release from the university on Wednesday. Knox is also an epidemiologist and professor in the university’s Department of Community Medicine.

While the link is unclear, the research raises concerns. “Studies that we’ve done looking at these chemicals on the U.S. population show that almost everyone has these chemicals in their blood,” Dana Boyd Barr, a research professor at the Rollins School of Health at Emory University in Georgia, told ABC News.

In animal studies, the compounds have been linked to cancers and thyroid disease and the PFCs found in nonstick frying pans have killed birds and created flu-like symptoms in people when under high heat, said ABC News. Meanwhile, industry maintains the chemical’s safety. The study disagrees. “PFCs are toxins that shouldn’t be in our bodies in the first place, but 98 percent of people tested have measurable levels of PFCs in their blood,” said Knox, quoted ABC News from her release. “If the PFCs are causing early menopause, then those women are at an increased risk for heart issues. If they aren’t, there are still toxins accumulating in the body that shouldn’t be there. Either way, it’s bad news,” the release continued.

High PFC levels were found in the group of 25,957 women studied who had experienced early onset menopause as young as age 42; these women also experienced large estrogen level drops, noted ABC News. While the findings “did not prove whether that is because earlier menopause causes PFCs to be higher or PFCs cause earlier menopause,” said Dr. Alan Ducatman, who also participated in the study, more research is called for, wrote ABC News.

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussed its concern over PFCs’ long-term effects in humans and on wildlife, said ABC News and we recently wrote that a Boston University School of Public Health study found a potential link between PFCs and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—a neurodevelopmental disorder—in children. The research, published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, indicated that the team found “increased odds of ADHD in children with higher serum PFC levels,” quoted Science Daily.

The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and compared PFC levels in serum samples from 571 children, ages 12 to 15. Parents of 48 of the children reported their children received an ADHD diagnosis. NHANES is an ongoing national survey of a sampling of the U.S. population from which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obtains dietary and health data, explained Science Daily.

In a 2003-2004 survey, NHANES reviewed 2,094 blood samples obtained from the U.S. population and discovered the vast majority—98 percent—tested with detectable PFC serum levels, a significant issue given that PFCs can take years to be even partially eliminated once absorbed in the body, noted Science Daily.

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