By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter
Exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) may be associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), say researchers.
Anoop Shankar (West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown, USA) and colleagues found that increasing serum PFOA levels were significantly and positively associated with CVD, independent of confounders such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and serum cholesterol level.
"Our results contribute to the emerging data on health effects of PFCs (perfluoroalkyl chemicals), suggesting for the first time that PFOA exposure is potentially related to CVD and PAD," remark the authors in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"However, owing to the cross-sectional data of the present study, we cannot conclude that the association is causal," they caution.
Compared with people in the lowest quartile of PFOA (<2.9 ng/mL in women, <3.0 ng/mL in men), those in the highest quartile of serum PFOA (>5.6 ng/mL in women, >6.4 ng/mL in men) had a significant 2.01-fold higher risk for CVD, 1.78-fold higher risk for PAD, and a 2.28-fold higher risk for CVD or PAD after adjusting for potential confounders.
The study included 1216 individuals from the 1999-2000 and 2003-2004 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.
Previous surveys have suggested that PFOA, which is widely used in the manufacture of products such as lubricants, polishes, paper and textile coatings, and food packaging, is detectable in the blood of over 98% of the US population.
Debrabrata Mukherjee (Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, USA) writes in an accompanying editorial: "These results contribute to the evolving data on the adverse health effects of PFOA, suggesting that PFOA exposure may be potentially related to CVD."
Although she acknowledges that the cross-sectional nature of the study suggests causality or a temporal association between PFOA and CVD, she emphasizes that "clinicians will need to act now."
Mukherjee elaborates: "From a societal point of view it would make sense to limit or to eliminate the use of PFOA and its congeners in industry through legislation and regulation while improving water purification and treatment techniques to try and remove this potentially toxic chemical from our water supply."
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