LifestyleThyroid cancer risk increased by 56% due to toxic 'forever chemicals'

Thyroid cancer risk increased by 56% due to toxic 'forever chemicals'

The cause of thyroid cancer
The cause of thyroid cancer
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7:12 PM EST, November 12, 2023

Researchers have identified a relationship between thyroid cancer and 'forever chemicals', to which we are all exposed on a daily basis. They discovered that exposure to a particular type of PFAS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) boosts the risk of thyroid cancer by 56 percent.

Understanding 'forever chemicals' or PFAS

PFAS is a set of man-made chemicals that are ubiquitously utilized in manufacturing various consumer items due to their distinct properties. Items such as non-stick cookware, water-resistant apparel, stain-resistant textiles, and grease-resistant products frequently contain PFAS.

PFAS are dubbed 'forever chemicals' because of their solidity and resistance to breakdown, frequently found in soil, water, and air.

PFAS and its health impact

Prior research indicates that PFAS are endocrine disruptors that have the potential to disrupt the functioning of the glands in the body which are responsible for hormone production. This includes the thyroid gland.

Scientists believe that PFAS compounds can manipulate the immune system, influencing its capability to battle infections and tumours. Moreover, PFAS increase the risk of kidney and testicular cancer and can also trigger other negative health impacts - such as oxidative stress, inflammation, cellular death, and cause DNA damage in thyroid tissue.

PFAS and its impact on the thyroid

"Considering the significant surge in thyroid cancer worldwide over the last few decades, we were keen to explore potential environmental factors that could be instigating this surge," explained Dr. Maaike van Gerwen, co-author of the study and adjunct and research director at Mount Sinai Hospital's Icahn School of Medicine in New York, in a press release.

The researchers' findings, published in EBioMedicine, establish a connection between exposure to PFAS and an elevated risk of thyroid cancer.

The study involved comparing a group of 88 individuals with thyroid cancer to a control group of 88 individuals who didn't have cancer. They discovered that exposure to a specific type of PFAS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) escalated the risk of thyroid cancer by up to 56 percent. Moreover, an analysis of a subgroup of 31 individuals with thyroid cancer disclosed a link between this type of cancer and several other PFAS compounds.

These findings further accentuate the health risks associated with PFAS and underscore the necessity to eliminate or reduce exposure to these compounds.

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