“, study lead author Ning Ding, Ph.D., MPH, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Previously published data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows how common PFAS exposure is, as nearly all Americans have detectable levels of the PFAS. at least one PFAS in their blood.
Even at low levels in the blood, research has shown that PFAS can cause adverse health effects. Several PFASs are associated with cardiovascular risk, including endothelial dysfunction (decreased blood vessel function), oxidative stress, and elevated cholesterol.
However, there are no previous studies evaluating whether PFAS levels affect blood pressure control in middle-aged women.
Permanent chemicals may be bad for women’s heart health
This new study is the first to look at the link between ‘forever chemicals’ and high blood pressure in middle-aged women. Exposure may be an underappreciated risk factor for women’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
Using data from the National Women’s Health Study – Multiple Pollution Study (SWAN-MPS), a prospective study of women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds in middle age, The researchers examined specific PFAS blood levels and the risk of high blood pressure.
The data included more than 1,000 women, 45-56 years old, with normal blood pressure when they entered the study. Blood levels of PFAS were measured at the start of the study. They found that 470 women had high blood pressure.
Women in the highest concentrations of one-third perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 2-(N-ethyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid (EtFOSAA, a precursor of PFOS) were 42%, 47 % and 42% higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
It’s important to note that we examined PFAS individually as well as several PFASs together, and we found that combined exposure to multiple PFAS had a stronger effect on blood pressure.
Some states are beginning to ban the use of PFAS in the packaging of food and personal care products and cosmetics. These findings make it clear that strategies need to be developed to limit the widespread use of PFAS in products. Switching to alternatives may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure in middle-aged women.
The study was limited in that it only included middle-aged women, so the findings may not translate to younger or older men or women. More research is needed to confirm these associations and address ways to reduce PFAS exposure.