CDC Links Multiple Cancers to “Forever Chemicals”

( – A recently published study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology has found a link between so-called “forever chemicals” and some forms of cancer in women. The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), highlights the potential dangers of “forever chemicals” also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly found in a wide range of household substances.

Researchers from three American Universities examined CDC data and found that women exposed to particular PFAS chemicals were almost twice as likely to have had a melanoma diagnosis; women exposed to BPA – a commonly used chemical in many plastic products – were more likely to have had an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Men were not found to experience any relationship between “forever chemical” exposure and cancer diagnosis. Health outcomes also appear to differ amongst women of different races. A link between PFAS exposure and ovarian and uterine cancers featured predominately among white women, whereas phenol exposure and breast cancer were both more commonly noted among women who are not white. The researchers who conducted the study said they were not yet certain why these racial differences existed but posited that it may be down to dietary differences and the likelihood of drinking contaminated water. They also added that chemicals such as phenols could be found in hair products more commonly used by black, Asian, and Latin-American women, and this could be a possible factor.

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” as they do not biodegrade in the human body and may not be able to degrade in the environment. They are often used as a waterproofing agent and have been found in a huge range of everyday items, including paper straws, cosmetics, cookware, clothing, and even firefighting foam. Nearly half of all US drinking water has been found to be contaminated with these chemicals.

This research is part of a larger ongoing effort spearheaded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health to improve understanding of the human health impacts of PFAS. The study does not conclusively prove that PFAS chemical cause cancer, but the authors have said that it shows a strong likelihood the chemicals have a causal effect and should be further investigated.

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