What do dust, stir-fry dishes, and microwave popcorn have to do with high cholesterol? Turns out it may be quite a bit.
A new study out of West Virginia University School of Medicine, has found a link between perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and high cholesterol in children and teenagers.
These two chemicals are perfluoroalkyl acids that are used in the manufacture of the chemicals that give non-stick heat resistance to cookware and microwave popcorn bags and breathable, waterproof properties to fabrics and upholstery. The chemicals can make their way into the body through drinking water, dust, food packaging, breast milk, cord blood, microwave popcorn and air.
The West Virginia study found that children and teens with the highest levels of these compounds in their blood had measurably higher levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL — the so-called "bad" cholesterol — when compared with children with lower chemical levels.
Researchers evaluated serum lipid levels in 12,476 children and teens included in the C8 Health Project, which resulted from the settlement of a class-action lawsuit regarding PFOA contamination of the drinking water supply in the Ohio River Valley.
They found that, on average, the children and teens with the highest PFOA concentration had total cholesterol levels that were 4.6 points higher and LDL levels that were 3.8 points higher than those with the lowest PFOA levels. In addition, there was an average difference of 8.5 points in total cholesterol levels and 5.8 points in LDL cholesterol levels between the one-fifth of participants with the highest and lowest PFOS levels.
According to the study's authors, these findings do not prove exposure to these chemicals caused the higher readings, but they do show a link and suggest the need for more study.
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