The term PFAS encompasses more than 4,700 chemical compounds that surround us every day. They are present in non-stick coatings, in some cleaning products, and in the foam of fire extinguishers. They practically do not degrade and can accumulate in plants, animals and humans, with consequences on health that we still cannot fully understand.
The number is shocking: 97% of people in the United States have PFAS in their blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and there is increasing scientific evidence of their harmful effects on health.
In total, there are more than 4,700 substances under the umbrella of the term PFAS and they are used in products that surround us daily: they are present in some cleaning products, in stain-resistant products, in non-stick products such as Teflon in pans or in packaging. of single-use food. The durability of PFAS has earned them the nickname “forever chemicals” as they do not degrade, a quality that allows them to accumulate in the environment and in living beings.
The last study published on the matter, appearing in the ‘Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology’, concludes that there is a link between exposure to PFAS and increased cancer risk in women. The difference is especially striking in melanoma diagnoses: women with more exposure to some of these chemical components were twice as likely to suffer from this type of cancer. However, no difference was observed in men.
The authors of the study point out that PFAS can interrupt the specific hormonal circuits of women, thus generating an increased risk of cancer, including ovarian and uterine cancer.
However, are not the only harmful consequences on health: It is known that they also influence thyroid diseases, that they can reduce the weight of newborn babies, impacting their childhood development, and that they increase cholesterol levels.
Despite everything, the uncertainties are more than the certainties. Due to the number of different PFAS that exist and the difficulty of distinguishing their consequences from other environmental factors, such as lifestyle or demographic changes, it is difficult to actually measure how they make us sick.
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