Chemicals That Never Degrade Increase Blood Pressure Risk in Women
,” said study lead author Ning Ding, Ph.D., M.P.H., a post-doctoral 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) demonstrates how common PFAS exposure is, as nearly all Americans have detectable concentrations of at least one PFAS in their blood.
Even at low levels in the blood, research has shown that PFAS can have detrimental health effects. Some PFAS have been linked to cardiovascular risk, including endothelial dysfunction (impaired blood vessel function), oxidative stress, and elevated cholesterol.
However, no previous studies have evaluated whether PFAS levels affect blood pressure control among middle-aged women.
Forever Chemicals Might Be Bad For Women’s Heart Health
This new study is the first to examine the association between ‘forever chemicals’ and hypertension in middle-aged women. Exposure may be an underappreciated risk factor for women’s cardiovascular disease risk.
Using data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation-Multi-Pollutant Study (SWAN-MPS), a prospective study of women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in midlife, researchers examined blood concentrations of specific PFAS and the risk of high blood pressure.
Data included more than 1,000 women, 45-56-years old who had normal blood pressure when they enrolled in the study. Blood concentrations of PFAS were measured at the start of the study. They found that 470 women developed high blood pressure.
Women in the highest one-third concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and 2-(N-ethyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamido) acetic acid (EtFOSAA, a PFOS precursor) had 42%, 47% and 42% higher risks, respectively, of developing high blood pressure.
It is important to note that we examined individual PFAS as well as several PFAS together, and we found that the combined exposure to multiple PFAS had a stronger effect on blood pressure.
Some states are beginning to ban the use of PFAS in food packaging and cosmetic and personal care products. These findings make it clear that strategies to limit the widespread use of PFAS in products need to be developed. Switching to alternative options may help reduce the incidence of high blood pressure risk in midlife women.
The study was limited in that it only included middle-aged women, so the findings may not translate to men or younger or older women. More research is needed to confirm these associations and to address ways to reduce PFAS exposure.