Research links PFAS exposure to delayed puberty in girls

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pfas-exposure-linked-to-delayed-puberty(NaturalHealth365)  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are found in almost everything.  Soil, water, food, household products, and even human blood can contain PFAS.  However, researchers are only now learning of the long-term, detrimental effects of these pervasive substances, and the latest identified casualty is prepubescent girls.  A recent study found that when girls are exposed to PFAS, it could delay puberty.

This does not come as a great shock.  With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admitting to PFAS found in human blood, it was only a matter of time before scientists began connecting the dots and linked various health concerns to PFAS exposure.  Despite the challenges that researchers face sifting through the thousands of PFAS to assess the potential for risks to humans, animals, and the environment, studies are emerging, and the findings are sobering.

What are PFAS doing to our girls?

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati examined data from more than 800 girls in the San Francisco Bay area and Greater Cincinnati to look at the potential link between hormones and puberty and how PFAS plays into the equation.

When they entered the study, the girls were between 6 and 8.  They underwent examinations every 6 to 12 months to check for signs of puberty, which include breast development and the appearance of pubic hair.

The girls were also tested for PFAS in their blood, and 85% of the participants had measurable levels.  The hormone levels associated with puberty’s onset were also checked regularly.

PFAS exposure may delay puberty in girls, study reveals

The researchers found that the girls who had been exposed to PFAS experienced an average of a five to six-month delay in the onset of puberty.  However, some were delayed much longer, while others did not experience any delay.  The bulk of the group, though, did experience a delay.

The link between the delay in puberty and exposure to PFAS, particularly Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), is very strong.  It gives credence to theories that PFAS exposure is far more dangerous and concerning than was previously thought.

While a five or six-month delay in puberty may not seem very significant, it can have some serious consequences for the girls once they reach adulthood, including an increased risk of developing breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and kidney disease.

Protect your family from PFAS

You can take steps to minimize your family’s exposure to PFAS, although it isn’t realistic to think you can completely avoid them.  However, even reducing exposure can be beneficial.

Start with the water you drink.  Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admits: contaminated water is one of the primary ways that people get exposed to PFAS.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an interactive map that identifies contamination sites across the U.S.  You can check to see if your location is on the interactive map tool, but be aware that not all sites have been tested yet.

If your city or town is not on the map, it does not mean that you aren’t in an area where the drinking water is contaminated.  It is best to investigate on your own.  You can also request a copy of the annual water quality report for your city if you are on municipal water, and if you use a private well, you can purchase an at-home water testing kit and do it yourself.

A water filter is well worth the investment, but not all filters will remove PFOA and PFOS.  Look for water filters that have an NSF-P473 certification.  Several outstanding water filters on the market have this certification and are very effective in reducing not only PFAS but also chloramines, chlorine, fluoride and lead.

Check the labels on all home products, including cleaning, personal hygiene, skincare, and cosmetics.  If the ingredients list contains polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, toss it out.  You can also visit the EWG website for a list of verified toxin-free products.

Other products to avoid include:

  • Greasy fast food (PFAS are often found in the wrappers)
  • Stain repellent
  • Many synthetic fabrics and stain or water-repellent fabrics (choose natural fibers instead, like untreated wool and cotton)
  • Non-stick utensils and cookware (choose instead cast iron, ceramic, or stainless steel)
  • Avoid fish and shellfish that may have been caught in contaminated water

Every effort you make to protect your family from PFAS exposure is beneficial.  Make it a part of your family’s culture, and it will become a way of life.

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