Scientists at the University of Southern California have found that exposure to a mixture of synthetic substances commonly found in the home alters important metabolic processes in the human body, which can lead to a very wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, as well as many types of cancer. Such a link is reported in an article published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives .
Man-made chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFASs) are used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. PFAS are sometimes referred to as “timeless chemicals” because they break down and accumulate very slowly in the environment and human tissues.
The team analyzed blood samples taken from 312 teens in the Hispanic Teen Study and 137 children in the Southern California Children’s Health Study. All children and adolescents were found to have several common PFAS in their blood, including PFOS, PFHxS, PFHpS, PFOA, and PFNA. More than 98 percent of participants also had perfluorooctanoic acid (PFDA) in their blood.
Individual PFASs are known to increase the risk of several types of diseases. However, the new work assessed which biological processes are changed when exposed to a combination of several PFASs. It turned out that such exposure not only disrupted the metabolism of lipids and amino acids, but also changed the function of thyroid hormones. These hormones play an important role in a child’s development during puberty, which can have serious implications for a number of diseases later in life, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.