Exposure to “chemicals forever” in cosmetics and non-stick pans can DOUBLE diabetes risk for women, study says
- US researchers looked at 3,302 premenopausal women between the ages of 42 and 52
- Blood test for polyfluoroalkyls – or PFAS – nicknamed “chemicals forever”
- 2.62 times higher risk for those with the highest level of chemicals in their blood
According to a study, middle-aged women may be at increased risk for diabetes due to the “forever chemicals” in cosmetics and non-stick cookware.
The researchers found that women with high levels of the substances in their blood had up to double the chance of developing the disease.
Polyfluoroalkyls – or PFASs – have been dubbed “chemicals for ever” because they are designed not to decompose in the environment.
They appeared in the Hollywood film Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo after a community’s water was poisoned by chemicals from the local plant.
There are around 5,000 different types of chemicals and they have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, high blood pressure, and birth defects.
Two villages in Cambridgeshire had to drink bottled water after it emerged that their local drinking water was contaminated with such “forever chemistry”.
The latest study looked at 3,302 premenopausal women between the ages of 42 and 52 whose blood was first drawn between 1996 and 1997 and repeated periodically until 2017.
The researchers, led by Dr. Sung Kyun Park at the University of Michigan, tested for the presence of environmental chemicals including seven PFAS.
“Forever chemicals” in cosmetics and non-stick pans can more than double the risk of diabetes, according to a study.
The authors stated: “Higher serum concentrations of some PFAS were associated with a higher risk of incident diabetes in middle-aged women.”
They also noted: “The joint effects of PFAS blends were greater than those of single PFAS, suggesting a potential additive or synergistic effect of multiple PFAS on diabetes risk.”
What are PFAS and how do they enter water reserves?
PFAS are man-made chemicals used as water and oil repellents and coatings for common products including cookware, rugs and textiles.
These endocrine-disrupting chemicals do not decompose when released into the environment and continue to accumulate over time.
They have been linked to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
PFAS chemicals can contaminate drinking water supplies near facilities where the chemicals are used.
PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing plants, military bases and fire training facilities where PFAS-containing foam is used.
They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.
The women were classified into three divisions, those with high, medium and low levels of PFAS.
They found that women in the top third of the group for all seven were 2.62 times more likely to develop diabetes than those in the “low” category.
The increased risk associated with each individual PFAS ranged from 36% to 85%, suggesting a potential additive or synergistic effect of multiple PFAS on diabetes risk.
The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
In total, 102 women developed type 1 or type 2 diabetes during the study.
The authors wrote, “Reduced exposure to these” chemicals forever, anywhere “even before entering middle age may be a key preventive approach to reducing diabetes risk.
“Policy changes related to drinking water and consumer products could prevent exposure to the entire population.”
The authors suggest that if the effect of PFAS in men is similar to that in women, about one in four cases of diabetes in the United States could be caused by exposure to PFAS – about 370,000 out of 1.5 million each year.
PFAS were first developed in the 1940s and are widely used in industry and consumer products such as non-stick cookware, water and stain resistant coatings, food packaging, carpet, fire foam, and even cosmetics.
Their molecular structure is based on a linked chain of carbon atoms with one or more fluorine atoms attached and the extreme stability of those carbon-fluorine bonds makes the PFAS highly resistant to breaking.
This durability causes PFAS to persist and accumulate in the environment, as well as in the bodies of humans and animals, where they can remain for years.
Many PFAS have molecular structures that resemble those of naturally occurring fatty acids, with the result that they have similar chemical properties and effects on the human body.
Fatty acids play a role in controlling the formation and development of new adipocytes (fat cells), as well as in controlling fat and glucose levels in the body. PFAS are thought to interfere with these naturally occurring fatty acids.