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Packaging chemical link to cardiovascular disease

By Rod Addy , 04-Sep-2012
Last updated on 04-Sep-2012 at 13:52 GMT

A chemical found commonly in food packaging has been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), according to a report published online by the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The analysis of 1,216 individuals linked perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to the circulatory diseases, according to Anoop Shankar and colleagues from the West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown.

The research examined the association between serum (blood) levels of PFOA and the presence of CVD and PAD, a marker of atherosclerosis, in a nationally representative group of adults. Merged data from the 1999-2000 and 2003-2004 National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey was used.

The study suggests increasing PFOA levels in the blood were positively associated with the presence of CVD and PAD. This association seemed to be independent of age, sex, race, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes Mellitus, hypertension and cholesterol levels.

Health effects

“Our results contribute to the emerging data on health effects of perfluoroalkyl chemicals, suggesting for the first time that PFOA exposure is potentially related to CVD and PAD,” the researchers said. “However, owing to the cross-sectional nature of the present study, we cannot conclude that the association is causal.

“In summary, in a representative cross-sectional sample of the US population, we found that higher PFOA levels are positively associated with self-reported CVD and objectively measured PAD. Future prospective studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings.”

Commenting on the analysis, Debabrata Mukherjee of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Centre, El Paso, writes: “These results contributed to the evolving data on the adverse health effects of PFOA, suggesting that PFOA exposure may be potentially related to CVD.

“Although it seems clear that additional prospective research is needed to tease out the true adverse cardiovascular effects of PFOA, given the concerns raised by this and prior studies, clinicians will need to act now.”

Mukherjee said the use of PFOA and related chemicals should be limited or eliminated in industry through legislation and regulation.

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