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New Research: The Dangers of PFOA
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

Have you ever heard of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)? You may not be familiar with these highly toxic chemicals, yet there's a good chance you and your family are exposed to them everyday. They're chemicals used to make non-stick kitchenware, as well as stain and water resistant fabric and carpets. You may recognize them by their commercial names—Teflon and Gore-Tex.

PFOA/S is used in so many products and applications that virtually every human and animal on the planet has it in their blood. We ingest these chemicals every time we fry an egg in a Teflon-coated pan, microwave a bag of popcorn, or eat from fast food containers. Our children absorb it orally when they touch coated clothing and carpeting, then touch their mouth.

There is also widespread environmental contamination; it is in our water supply due to leaching or dumping from PFOA/S chemical plants. These chemicals are very stable and break down slowly, meaning they remain in the environment and our body for a very long time, eventually finding their way into our food supply.

While these popular chemicals offer many conveniences in our everyday lives, they are also exposing us to serious and long-term health risks. Some agencies, such as the Canadian Public Health Association: National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH), label them as an endocrine disruptor, meaning they alter hormones and cause health issues such as infertility, thyroid disease, and prostate cancer. They are also linked to excessive cholesterol levels.

Unfortunately, not enough research has been conducted on these chemicals to thoroughly understand the damage and consequences of their long-term use. One recently published study reviewed existing literature to evaluate the extent that they impact animal and human health. One very clear finding was that PFOA/S accumulates in the thyroid gland. This typically leads to hypothyroidism or even thyroid failure, particularly in women and children.

The larger question is, how do we reduce PFOA/S levels in our body? Because there is very limited research available on the topic, this question is very difficult to answer. One beneficial solution may be detoxification. The liver is the main organ of detoxification, so supporting it with the nutrients that it uses up in the detox process is a positive step. Lipoic acid, vitamin C, glutathione, and its precursor NAC are all a good place to start.

Hopefully, future research will provide us with definitive answers on how to rid our bodies of these toxins. In the meantime, be sure to reduce your exposure and the burden on your body. Avoid products labeled as "water repellent or resistant", pans coated with Teflon, and pay attention to the packaging used for your food.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

J Endocrinol Invest. 2017 Feb; 40(2):105-121.

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