(NaturalNews) According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder. Unlike the autoimmune form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear on a joint and, the NIH says, is just a "normal result of aging."
But could something else cause osteoarthritis? After all, not everyone suffers from osteoarthritis symptoms as they age. Now, for the first time, there's evidence that exposure to chemical toxins could, in fact, trigger the disease.
A new study just published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to look at the associations between perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and osteoarthritis. This is a potentially huge discovery because these chemicals, (when referred to together, known as PFCs) are widespread in the environment and known to contaminate humans and wildlife. PFCs are used in more than 200 industrial processes and consumer products including grease-proof paper food containers, stain and water-resistant fabrics and personal care products.
"We found that PFOA and PFOS exposures are associated with higher prevalence of osteoarthritis, particularly in women, a group that is disproportionately impacted by this chronic disease," Sarah Uhl, who authored the study along with Yale Professor Michelle L. Bell and Tamarra James-Todd, an epidemiologist at the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a press statement.
The researchers investigated data from six years of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2003-2008), which allowed them to account for factors such as age, income, and race/ethnicity. When they looked at men and women separately, they found clear, strong associations between the chemical exposure and osteoarthritis for women, but not men. What's more, more exposure meant a higher risk for osteoarthritis. Women in the highest 25 percentile of exposure to PFOAs had about twice the odds of having osteoarthritis compared to those in the lowest 25 percentile of exposure.
Uhl and her team noted that more studies are needed to establish the possible biological mechanisms that could cause PFCs to trigger osteoarthritis. They also stated that differences in associations between men and women, if confirmed, need further investigation. "Better understanding the health effects of these chemicals and identifying any susceptible subpopulations could help to inform public health policies aimed at reducing exposures or associated health impacts," the scientists concluded.
This is not the first time PFCs have raised concerns about how these chemicals may damage health. As Natural News previously reported, a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study, published in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction, found that women with higher blood levels of PFCs were likely to have problems with infertility.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.