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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teflon and Cancer


Health conscious individuals do their best to eat healthy, exercise, and cook at home.  But current research is showing what you cook in maybe as important as what you cook with.

There have been rumors about the safety of Teflon for a long time.  But the most stricking came out in 2006.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared one of the chemicals, PFOA, used to make Teflon a “likely human carcinogen.”  What makes PFOA even more dangerous is that it is an indestructible chemical so all the PFOA manufactured since 1950 will remain indefinitely in our soil, water and bodies [1].  PFOA can cross the maternal and fetal blood barrier which may increase the risk of birth defects [2].  All ten newborns tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for PFOA had the pollutant in their blood.  A study conducted in 2007 in Demark found the higher the concentration of PFOA in the newborn’s blood the lower its birth weight [3].  This makes PFOA a significant public health concern [3]. Birth defects are not the only concern when it comes to PFOA, multiple animal studies have reported an increased risk of cancer, birth defects and other health problems [4].  In humans, PFOA has been found to increase cancer risk especially prostate cancer but these studies have been inconclusive [4]. Additionally, the American Council on Health and Science claims that the amounts of PFOA used in animal studies is much higher than what the general population is exposed to and research has not been able to make a definite link between humans and cancer induced by PFOA [2]. 

In short, PFOA is an everlasting, manmade chemical used in production of Teflon.  Although there are two sides to the argument both sides agree that PFOA has devastating effects on animals and may have side effects on humans.  More recent studies are showing that PFOA does have some negative impacts on human newborns but more research on cancer and other health problems is needed before any decisions can be made.

Teflon cooking ware is not a must in the kitchen.  Stainless steel, glassware, and iron pots and pans have with stood the test of time.  They are more expensive than Teflon but at least one can be sure they are safe for preparing food for family and friends.

 

1.            Environmental Working Group. EPA Science Panel Says Teflon Chemical 'Likely' Cause of Cancer.  2006  [cited 2009; Available from: http://www.ewg.org/node/21302.

2.            American Council on Health and Science. Teflon Contains a Cancer-Causing Chemical PFOA. Top Ten Unfolded Health Scares of 2006 # 6  2006  [cited 2010; Available from: http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.1438/pub_detail.asp.

3.            Fei, C., et al., Perfluorinated chemicals and fetal growth: a study within the Danish National Birth Cohort. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2007. 115(11): p. 1677.

4.            Steenland, K., et al., Predictors of PFOA levels in a community surrounding a chemical plant. 2009.

 

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