(NaturalNews) They cannot be seen with the naked eye, and most people do not even know they exist. But perfluorinated chemicals are hiding in all sorts of common consumer products, from the pans you cook with and the clothes you wear, to the paper products you write on and the foods you eat. And a new study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has found that such chemicals may be linked to causing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
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).
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.
"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."
PFOA also linked to high cholesterol, thyroid problems
A similar study conducted back in 2010 unearthed other serious problems with PFOA exposure, including its propensity to significantly elevate cholesterol levels in children. Since cholesterol is a necessary component of the human body, its excess presence in the bloodstream due to PFOA shows that PFOA actually causes a chronic inflammatory response throughout the body.
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.
"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 need to act now," said Dr. Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D., from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, in a commentary.
"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."
But according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the most common sources of PFOA exposure are regulated consumer products. These include non-stick cookware, carpeting, furniture, food packaging, paint, conventional cleaning products, floor wax, shoes, and clothing.