It is true that chemicals are all around us, and while this can be a good thing, too many of the man-made variety cause more trouble than they’re worth. Most recently, a large, community based study appearing in the September 2010 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine finds possible health risks, including high cholesterol levels, to children from exposure to the chemical used to make nonstick cookware, or those used on waterproof and stain-resistant products.
The study analyzed blood samples taken from just over 12,000 children and teens who were enrolled in the C8 Health Project – a study of communities in the mid-Ohio River Valley exposed to high levels of PFOA due to contaminated drinking water. The research project was the result of a class action suit settlement against chemical giant DuPont that operated the plant linked to the contamination of the water.
The researchers analyzed blood levels of two chemicals – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used mostly in nonstick cookware, and perfluoroctanesulfonate (PFOS) found in clothing, fabrics, food packaging and carpeting and more. PFOA concentrations were on average about 7 times higher than those reported in a nationally representative survey. PFOS levels were similar.
Those children who had the highest levels of these chemicals in their blood were also more likely to have abnormally high total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol according to researcher Stephanie J. Frisbee, MSc of the West Virginia University School of Medicine.
Children and teens with the highest blood levels of PFOA had a 20% increased risk of higher total cholesterol, 40% increased risk of higher LDL cholesterol than those with the lowest levels of the chemical. Those subjects with the highest PFOS levels were 60% more likely than those with the lowest levels to have high total and LDL cholesterol.
How exposure to PFOA and PFOS occurs remains unknown though experts speculate sources of exposure might include drinking water, packaging of food, microwave popcorn and even the air we breathe. Recent research suggests that almost all of us have some level of both PFOA and PFOS in our bloodstream.
Of course the research is not solid proof that being exposed to PFOA and PFOS ups cholesterol, but the findings do warrant additional study. These chemicals are all around us… in the environment and in our own bodies. More than anything we need to understand the substances to which we are exposed and what that exposure is doing to our bodies.
The cookware industry has long claimed that cooking in nonstick pans is not a significant source of exposure to the chemical.
According to the Cookware Manufacturing Association PFOA is used in the manufacture of the coating that makes a pan nonstick but it does not stay in the coating by the time the product reaches the consumer. Science seems to back up this claim, since PFOA is found in people all over the world, including places where there are no Teflon pans.
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Is Your Cookware Raising Your Cholesterol..? Continued…
Since the effects of PFOA are not yet known, the Environmental Protection Agency has asked DuPont and other companies to stop using the chemical by the year 2015. DuPont agreed to the ban and has pledged to phase out the chemical before the deadline.
In the meantime, you can protect yourself from overexposure to chemicals by and reduce the risk of high cholesterol levels by:
- Avoiding greasy fast food wrappers, especially the ones for those tasty egg breakfast sandwiches.
- Don’t overheat teflon cookware.
- Use carbon filters to filter your drinking water.
- Replace nonstick pans with stainless steel, cast iron or glass.
- Choose home made baked fries over the fast food fries.
- Don’t store gasoline for your lawn mower (or other power tools) near your home.