It’s not only “you are what you eat.” It’s also “you are what you cook with.” A new study has found a link between chemicals inside non-stick cookware and high cholesterol.
Researchers found the link in children and teenagers, though that’s only because that was the age group being tested. It’s something we all might think about moving forward.
We are exposed to manmade chemicals called “perfluoroalkyl acids” through drinking water, dust, food packaging, breast milk, cord blood, microwave popcorn, air and occupational exposure. Two of these chemicals discussed in the study are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
Perfluoroalkyl acids are used to make a substance that gives non-stick heat resistance to cookware — as well as waterproof properties to fabrics and upholstery. PFOA and PFOS may also result from the breakdown of compounds used as the coating for commercial food packaging, factory treatments for fabrics and carpets and pre-treated stain-resistant clothing. This is to say, they are all over the place.
Previous studies in animals found the liver to be the organ most affected by these chemicals. On the side, there were potential effects in humans, particularly in the cholesterol area. So the new study tested that idea in nearly 12,500 youngsters (average age of 11) who were part of a health project stemming from a lawsuit about contaminated water in the mid-Ohio Rivey Valley.
The average PFOA and PFOS concentrations in their blood were 69.2 and 22.7 nanograms per milliliter. The PFOA levels were higher than those found in a national survey. Researchers found that higher PFOA levels were linked with increased total cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol. PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL or “good” cholesterol.
There were various levels of chemicals found in the blood of the study participants. The research team speculated that it has to do with just how much exposure to PFOA and PFOS that a person gets. They say the results warrant further studies. High cholesterol can have a serious effect on the long-term health of the cardiovascular system.
In the meantime, do some research yourself on this subject. When you purchase cookware, see if any manufacturers offer products free of these chemicals. Or, though it’s more frustrating, opt for non-stick cookware.