Study: Persistent chemicals linked to high blood pressure in middle-aged women

A new study has found that middle-aged women who have higher concentrations of toxic “forever chemicals” in their blood may be more likely to develop high blood pressure.

These women were more likely to have high blood pressure than those with lower levels of the compounds, also called polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS), according to a study published Monday in the Journal of the American Heart Association Hypertension.

Best known for its presence in jet fuel-extinguishing foam and in industrial vacuums, PFAS is a group of synthetic chemicals found in a wide variety of household products, including nonstick pans, waterproof clothing, and cosmetics.

“PFAS are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they never degrade in the environment and contaminate drinking water, soil, water, food and many products we routinely consume or encounter,” said lead author Ning Ding, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology. The University of Michigan School of Public Health said in a statement.

So far, scientists have shown a “potential link” between PFAS and a diagnosis of high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension. This latest study extends that latter category to another subset of women.

“Women seem to be particularly vulnerable when they are exposed to these chemicals,” Ding said.

“Our study is the first to examine the relationship between ‘forever chemicals’ and high blood pressure in middle-aged women,” she continued. “Exposure may be an underappreciated risk factor for cardiovascular disease risk in women.”

Ding and her colleagues drew these conclusions by harnessing data from the Across the Nation Women’s Health Study – the Multiple Pollutants Study, an initiative launched in 2016 to investigate the effects of exposure to multiple environmental chemicals on middle-aged women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. .

The researchers examined blood PFAS concentrations and risk of developing high blood pressure among more than 1,000 women, ages 45 to 56, who had normal blood pressure when they joined the study.

The women were tracked nearly annually from 1999 to 2017 and recruited from five sites across the country, according to the authors.

The scientists found that of the 11,722 “person-years” in the study – the number of years multiplied by members of the affected population – 470 women developed high blood pressure.

According to the study, women with higher levels of certain types of PFAS, of which there are thousands, were more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Those who fell in the highest third for PFOS, PFOA, and PFOSAA levels had a 42 percent, 47 percent, and 42 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure, respectively, than women in the bottom third.

The researchers found that women in the top third of all seven types of PFAS examined had a 71 percent increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

“We’ve known for some time that PFAS disrupts the body’s metabolism, however, we did not anticipate the strength of the association that we found,” senior author Sung Kyun Park, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health said. In a statement.

“We hope that these findings will alert clinicians about the importance of PFAS and that they need to understand and recognize PFAS as an important potential risk factor for blood pressure control,” Park added.

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