Teflon Chemical Implicated in Heart Disease
PFOA is widely used in lubricants, polishes, paper coatings, food packaging
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a manmade chemical used in the manufacture of some common household products, appears to be associated with cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease in a study of 1,216 individuals, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.
The chemical was once used to produce non-stick coatings and is still used in a wide variety of other applications. It was linked to kidney and testicular cancer by an independent scientific panel approved by the DuPont company as part of a class action lawsuit.
Other studies have linked PFOA to high cholesterol levels in children.
In July, the chemical industry and the Food and Drug Administration reached an agreement to begin phasing out the so-called "C-8" group of chemical compounds widely used in pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers and other food packaging.
The chemicals basically make the food wrappers more grease-proof -- so the grease from your pizza doesn't make the box completely soggy by the time the delivery guy gets it to your door.
Surveys have suggested that PFOA (widely used in the manufacture of products such as lubricants, polishes, paper and textile coatings, and food packaging) is detectable in the blood of more than 98 percent of the U.S. population. Some evidence has suggested that an association may be biologically plausible between PFOA exposure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the study background.
“Cardiovascular disease 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.
“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. However, owing to the cross-sectional nature of the present study, we cannot conclude that the association is causal,” the authors comment.
Anoop Shankar, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from the West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown, examined the association between serum (blood) levels of PFOA and the presence of CVD and PAD, a marker of atherosclerosis, in a nationally representative group of adults. The study used merged data from the 1999-2000 and 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The study suggests that increasing serum PFOA levels were positively associated with the presence of CVD and PAD, and the association appeared to be independent of confounders such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and serum cholesterol level, the authors comment.
“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. Our findings, however, should be interpreted with caution because of the possibility of residual confounding and reverse causality. Future prospective studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings,” the authors conclude.