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New Study: Drinking This Daily May Increase “Forever Chemicals” In Your Blood

Posted by Triple Naturals I On Mar 21, 2024
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For those who cherish a steaming mug of this popular beverage each morning, new findings on PFAS contamination may have you rethinking your next sip.

We’re all striving to keep our bodies healthy by exercising, getting enough sleep, nurturing our relationships, and, of course, choosing the right foods—but a new study from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests it’s time to revisit our definition of “healthy eating.” The culprit? A troubling infiltration of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, into our diet.

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Lately, PFAS have made headlines, and for good reason. These stubborn chemicals, lingering in everything from our sofas to our raincoats, have been tied to alarming health risks—including revelations that they contaminate almost half of our tap water and are associated with an increased risk of three types of hormonal cancers.

The spotlight has intensified as recent findings published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International in February 2024 link them to everyday consumables like teas, processed meats, and the very packaging that holds our food. In a recent press release from the university, Jesse A. Goodrich, PhD, an assistant professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, explains, “To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine how dietary factors are associated with changes in PFAS over time. Looking at multiple time points gives us an idea of how changing people’s diets might actually impact PFAS levels.”

The details of the study

The researchers followed two groups of young adults: A primarily Hispanic group from the Southern California Children’s Health Study (CHS) and a nationally representative sample from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES). Participants shared their dietary habits, including how often they consumed home-cooked meals versus fast food or restaurant fare, which helped researchers gauge their exposure to PFAS-laden food packaging.

Participants provided blood samples for testing to measure different PFAS levels. Those in the CHS group were tested twice, first at about age 20 and again at around age 24, while participants from the NHANES group underwent testing once when they were about 19 years old.


The results

CHS participants who reported higher tea consumption during the initial visit had significantly elevated levels of various PFAS compounds at the follow-up appointment. Just one extra serving of tea was associated with a 24.8% higher level of perfluoro- hexanesulphonic acid (PFHxS), 16.17% higher perfluoroheptanesulfonic acid (PFHpS), and 12.6% higher perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

Tea wasn’t the only culprit, though.

Those who admitted to indulging in more pork products during the first visit also showed higher PFAS levels at the follow-up, with a single additional serving of pork linked to a 13.4% increase in perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The researchers got the same results with the NHANES group: Participants who consumed more tea, hot dogs, and processed meats exhibited higher PFAS levels across the board. Dr. Goodrich notes that this observation demonstrates the nationwide scope of the issue rather than being limited to a specific geographic location.

The power of home-cooking

On a more positive note, the study revealed that opting for home-cooked meals could be a game-changer in reducing PFAS exposure. Participants who reported eating more food prepared at home had lower perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) levels—a 0.9% reduction at baseline and a 1.6% decrease at follow-up for every 200-gram increase in home-cooked food consumption.

What you can do to protect your health

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So, what’s the key takeaway from this research? Prioritizing home-cooked meals made with fresh, unprocessed ingredients is a smart strategy for minimizing your PFAS exposure—and when you do treat yourself to those beloved seasonal indulgences, remember that moderation is key.

However, protecting our health doesn’t fall solely on our shoulders. The study’s findings emphasize the urgent need for stricter monitoring of food and beverage products for PFAS contamination, as even seemingly wholesome items like tea can harbor these harmful chemicals.

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