Heart Disease Risk Rises with Exposure to Household Chemical

Heart disease risks rise with exposure to a common household chemical, an emerging study has found. The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA, is an ammonium salt used in the manufacture of Teflon (PFTE).

PFOAs are also used to make a number of common household items, such as food packaging, carpets, paint, and nonstick cookware, explained CNN. Research has found that the popular chemical might be linked to increased risks for cardiac disease.

Prior research, said CNN, has also linked PFOA exposure to unhealthy cholesterol levels, as well as other heart disease risk factors. Potential PFOA health hazards remain largely unknown; however, the new research found that people with the highest PFOA blood levels had a double risk of also having a history of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke as wells as a 78 percent increased risk of suffering from peripheral artery disease, versus people with the lowest levels, said CNN. The study included a nationally representative sample of adults.

The study only looked at PFOA and heart disease at a single point in time and did not research if PFOA exposure causes, or precedes, heart disease; numerous health and demographic measures—race, education, obesity, smoking, and cholesterol—were considered. “What we are finding is that high levels of PFOA and cardiovascular disease coexisted for some reason. That is all,” lead author, Dr. Anoop Shankar, an epidemiologist at the West Virginia University School of Public Health in Morgantown, told CNN. “It is possible that we are seeing something that is just a bystander and is there because of confounding associations.” The study was published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine and was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey, explained CNN, is a large government health survey conducted yearly.

Dr. Debabrata Mukherjee, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, told CNN, said that while this study is a “red flag” and additional research is called for, reducing PFOA exposure might be practical.

We wrote that plaintiffs in a DuPont lawsuit are eligible for monitoring after a study linked a chemical used in Teflon with cancers such as testicular and kidney cancers. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), very commonly known as Teflon, is a DuPont product; C8 is a perflurochemical or PFC and is also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. The C8 Science Panel also released a study on reproduction issues that indicated some pregnant women exposed to C8 suffered from high blood pressure and a prior Panel report found a “small but clearly present” link between C8 and preeclampsia.

In 2005, federal investigators found C8 to be a “likely carcinogen” and called for expanded testing to study its potential to cause liver, breast, testicular, and pancreatic cancers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended that humans reduce consumption of water containing in excess of 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) of C8. When heated, the chemical breaks down into compounds that can be absorbed into food and enter the bloodstream.

As we’ve explained, prior studies link PFOS (another PFC) and C8 to adverse reactions in the livers, immune systems, and reproductive systems of animals; C8 has been found to be present in 98 percent of Americans’ blood and 100 percent of newborns’ blood. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the chemical industry has long maintained that there is no reason to worry about C8 in our bloodstreams and regulators have been unable to impose a federal limit for emissions and exposure. Meanwhile, the EPA is collaborating with some larger firms to eliminate PFOA and other similar chemicals from products and factory emissions by 2015, noted CNN.

CNN also noted that PFOA exposure has been linked to blood-vessel dysfunction, high “bad” cholesterol (LDL), low “good” cholesterol (HDL), and insulin resistance, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

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