“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons…?”- Rachel Carson
A study has found a connection between the blood concentration of PFAS in middle aged women and the likelihood of developing high blood pressure (ScienceDaily, 2022). PFAS, nicknamed “forever chemicals,” are a common class of synthetic chemicals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these chemicals are in practically everything, and next to impossible to avoid.
While the mentioned study focused on middle-aged women, this information is important for everyone to know. Practically every American has a detectable amount of PFAS in their bloodstream.
Prevalence Of PFAS
Due to widespread use since the 1950’s, polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are now found in our water, soil, air, and food. Due to their resistance to oil, water, and heat, PFAS are most notorious for being used to coat nonstick pans. Unfortunately, we now know that the PFAS can leach into food as it cooked. Larger particles can shed into our foods as the pans age and wear.
It's not just cookware. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that PFAS are in thousands of everyday products. They are used in the manufacturing of water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, cosmetics, and firefighting foams. PFAS are in food packaging, shampoos and bodywashes, pesticides, fuels, and even dental floss. There are simply too many products containing PFAS to list them all.
Studies show that two-thirds of America’s drinking water sources are contaminated by PFAS, and as we know water flows and touches everything. Concerning levels are now seen in the fish caught in PFAS contaminated water, and in dairy products from cows that were exposed through fertilizers used to grow their food.
Anytime we go outside, eat, or breathe, we could be exposed to PFAS. And we are often spreading these chemicals around without even realizing it.
Reasons For Concern
In addition to being everywhere, PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” for a reason. Once they contaminate our water or soil, they never degrade. Whereas other chemicals may break down or wash away, PFAS stay. You have likely seen news articles about farms with contaminated soils which can no longer be used to grow healthy produce.
The more often we are exposed to PFAS, the higher the concentration found in our blood becomes. A study published in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension journal found that as that rate increases, so does our risk of developing high blood pressure. However, even low levels of PFAS can have unwanted effects on your health.
Established PFAS Health Concerns and New Worries
While this is the first study linking PFAS levels in middle aged women to increased blood pressure, it isn’t the first to look at symptoms related to heart disease. Previous studies have linked PFAS to impaired blood vessel function, increased blood cholesterol levels, and reductions in the essential antioxidants needed to combat free radicals. It has also long been recognized that PFAS can interfere with the body’s natural metabolism.
The new study is important not just in terms of drawing connections to increased blood pressure, but also in revealing that middle-aged females appear to be more sensitive to PFAS absorption and effects. The study included women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Across the board, the risk of developing high blood pressure—for the women with the highest concentration of PFAS in their blood—increased more than 70% compared to those with low concentrations.
While some states are starting to outlaw PFAS in some products, it may be too late to eliminate the forever chemicals altogether. It is important to protect yourself by switching to alternative products as soon as possible and by avoiding PFAS contaminated foods, waters, and environments as much as possible.
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What to Remember:
PFAS have contaminated our water, soil, foods, and thousands of products.
They can cause a variety of serious health problems, and everyone is at risk.
Middle Aged women are most vulnerable to high blood pressure linked to PFAS in the blood stream.
Educate yourself on PFAS sources and take steps to reduce your exposure.