From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published September 4, 2012 07:51 AM

Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Heart Disease

Perfluorooctanoic acid is a synthetic, stable perfluorinated carboxylic acid and fluorosurfactant. It has been used in the manufacture of such prominent consumer goods as Teflon and Gore-Tex. Exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a man made chemical used in the manufacture of some common household products, appears to be associated with cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease in a study of 1,216 individuals, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine. Surveys have suggested that PFOA (widely used in the manufacture of products such as lubricants, polishes, paper and textile coatings, and food packaging) is detectable in the blood of more than 98 percent of the U.S. population. Some evidence has suggested that an association may be biologically plausible between PFOA exposure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the study background.

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The levels of PFOA exposure in humans vary widely. While an average American might have 3 or 4 parts per billion of PFOA present in his blood serum, individuals occupationally exposed to PFOA have had blood serum levels over 100,000 parts per billion recorded. In a study of individuals living around DuPont's Washington Works WV plant, those who had no occupational exposure had a median blood serum level of 329 parts per billion while the median of those with occupational exposure was 775 parts per billion.

PFOA can form as a breakdown product from a variety of precursor molecules. PFOA precursors can be transformed to PFOA by metabolism, biodegradation, or atmospheric processes.

Anoop Shankar, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from the West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown, examined the association between serum (blood) levels of PFOA and the presence of CVD and PAD, a marker of atherosclerosis, in a nationally representative group of adults. The study used merged data from the 1999-2000 and 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The study suggests that increasing serum PFOA levels were positively associated with the presence of CVD and PAD, and the association appeared to be independent of confounders such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and serum cholesterol level.

"Our results contribute to the emerging data on health effects of PFCs [perfluoroalkyl chemicals], suggesting for the first time that PFOA exposure is potentially related to CVD and PAD. However, owing to the cross-sectional nature of the present study, we cannot conclude that the association is causal," the authors comment.

Compared with the reference level of PFOA in quartile 1, the multivariable odds ratio among participants in quartile 4 was 2.01 for CVD and 1.78 for PAD, according to the results. "In summary, in a representative cross-sectional sample of the U.S. population, we found that higher PFOA levels are positively associated with self-reported CVD and objectively measured PAD. Our findings, however, should be interpreted with caution because of the possibility of residual confounding and reverse causality. Future prospective studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings," the authors conclude.

Perfluorooctanoic acid is a synthetic, stable perfluorinated carboxylic acid and fluorosurfactant. It has been used in the manufacture of such prominent consumer goods as Teflon and Gore-Tex. Exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a man made chemical used in the manufacture of some common household products, appears to be associated with cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease in a study of 1,216 individuals, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine. Surveys have suggested that PFOA (widely used in the manufacture of products such as lubricants, polishes, paper and textile coatings, and food packaging) is detectable in the blood of more than 98 percent of the U.S. population. Some evidence has suggested that an association may be biologically plausible between PFOA exposure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the study background.

The levels of PFOA exposure in humans vary widely. While an average American might have 3 or 4 parts per billion of PFOA present in his blood serum, individuals occupationally exposed to PFOA have had blood serum levels over 100,000 parts per billion recorded. In a study of individuals living around DuPont's Washington Works WV plant, those who had no occupational exposure had a median blood serum level of 329 parts per billion while the median of those with occupational exposure was 775 parts per billion.

PFOA can form as a breakdown product from a variety of precursor molecules. PFOA precursors can be transformed to PFOA by metabolism, biodegradation, or atmospheric processes.

For further information see PFOA.

Cardiovascular image via Shutterstock.

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