Jun 13, 2022 - Health

"Forever chemicals" linked to elevated blood pressure, study says

Illustration of a faucet with a drop of water with a sad face.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Middle-aged women with higher concentrations of synthetic substances known as "forever chemicals" in their blood were at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study that tracked them for nearly two decades and was published in Hypertension.

Why it matters: The per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in everyday household items, such as certain shampoos, dental floss, cosmetics, non-stick cookware, food packaging and fabrics — and are basically everywhere.

  • "PFAS are known as 'forever chemicals' because they never degrade in the environment and contaminate drinking water, soil, air, food and numerous products we consume or encounter routinely. One study estimated that two of the most common 'forever chemicals' are found in most household drinking water and are consumed by more than two-thirds of Americans," said study lead author Ning Ding, a post-doctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in a statement.

Details: The study looked at data from more than 1,000 women ages 45 to 56 years old, from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation-Multi-Pollutant Study.

  • The women had normal blood pressure when they enrolled in the study and were followed almost annually from 1999 to 2017.
  • Women in the highest one-third concentrations of all seven PFAS examined had a 71% increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

The bottom line: The authors said more study is needed to examine the connection, but that the findings should illuminate the need for policies to reduce PFAs in consumer products and alert physicians to the role they may play in patients' cardiovascular health.

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