by: Elizabeth Renter
August 7, 2012
Scientists have found a possible link between a chemical component commonly found in many household goods, and thyroid disease. Though researchers caution people from making too much of their findings, the possibility that these widely used consumer products are among the causes of thyroid disease is troubling, though not surprising.
Consumer Products Shown to be Causes of Thyroid Disease
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is found in nonstick cookware, stain resistant carpets and waterproof fabrics. It’s a relatively common industrial chemical.
PFOA has been found in the blood of humans, having made its way inside of us through the products that we use and cook with each day. In a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, researchers say those with higher blood levels of PFOA also have a higher incidence of thyroid disease.
The lead researcher says that we “need to know what they (these chemicals) are doing.” But other scientists are more reserved over the findings.
Ashley Grossman, a professor of neuroendocrinology at Queen Mary University of London says that “studies like this cannot tell us that the two things are definitely linked.
“We also don’t know whether this chemical is directly affecting the thyroid. Thyroid disease is often caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the thyroid gland so perhaps this chemical is having some effect on the immune system, rather than directly on the thyroid.”
It is possible that thyroid disease alters how the body handles PFOA, leading to a chicken and egg debate—did the thyroid disease come first or the PFOA? While the research shows how these products could be causes of thyroid disease, scientists say they aren’t completely sure – at least for now.
But this isn’t the first study to find problems with PFOA.
When nonstick cookware reaches 450 degree farenheit, it begins releasing the PFOA toxin into the air. Though the concentrations aren’t high, there is evidence that it could lead to low birth weight or DNA damage.
So, how can you avoid these non-stick cookware dangers? By not cooking with nonstick cookware for starters. Also, PFOA may still be used in microwave popcorn packaging. Some shampoos, paints, cleaning products and sprays may also contain PFCs, which break down into PFOA in the body. Basically, it’s all around us and you can only hope to minimize your exposure by minimizing your use of chemicals, detergents, stain resistant carpets and waterproofed fabrics.