PFAS, “perennial chemical pollutants”, contaminate the environment and are suspected of impacting our health. Researchers have just demonstrated higher levels of these substances in the bodies of women previously suffering from various cancers.
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A large US National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) links exposure to chemicals such as PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) and phenols to a prior cancer diagnosis. However, the study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology does not prove that this exposure is the cause of these cancer diagnoses. “ This is a strong signal that these endocrine disruptors may play a role and should be studied further. », indicate the authors.
Contaminating water and food, PFAS have long been suspected of being dangerous to health. They are even called “forever pollutants” because they resist decomposition and therefore last for decades in the environment. For the study, researchers extracted PFAS and phenol/paraben concentrations from blood and urine samples, as well as self-reported diagnoses of melanoma (skin cancer), thyroid cancers, breast cancers , ovary, uterus and prostate in more than 10,000 adults.
A possible disruption of hormonal function
The results show that, among women in particular, higher exposure to a certain PFAS compound doubled the risks of a prior melanoma diagnosis. Additionally, an increased likelihood of a history of ovarian cancer has been associated with several phenols and parabens. The study also found racial differences. Associations between various PFAS and ovarian and uterine cancers have only been observed in white women, while associations between a PFAS and a phenol (BPF) and breast cancer have only been observed. observed only in non-white women.
These chemicals could affect hormonal pathways in the pathology of these cancers in women. “ PFAS appears to disrupt hormonal function, providing a potential mechanism that increases the risk of hormone-related cancers in women “, clarified Amber Cathey, study author and researcher at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
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