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12-06-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Serum PFOA levels increase cardiovascular risk factors


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MedWire News: Serum levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is found in Teflon and Gore-Tex, appear to be associated with cardiovascular disease risk, even at levels commonly found in the general population, Korean investigators have discovered.

PFOA is used widely in many industrial and consumer products due to its ability to impart fire resistance and oil, stain, grease, and water resistance. However, it tends to bioaccumulate in the environment and body, and has been classified as a probable human carcinogen. There is also evidence of a possible link with cardiovascular risk factors.

Kyoung-Bok Min, from Ajou University School of Medicine, in Suwon, and colleagues therefore examined data on 2934 participants in the 2003 to 2004 and 2005 to 2006 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys who were aged over 20 years and had detectable serum PFOA levels.

The geometric mean serum PFOA concentration was 4.00 µg/l. After adjusting for age, gender, serum albumin, race/ethnicity, education, smoking, and other factors, linear regression analysis indicated that homocysteine levels and systolic blood pressure increased significantly with increasing log-transformed serum PFOA concentrations.

Individuals in the 80th percentile of PFOA levels had an odds ratio of 2.62 for hypertension compared with those in the 20th percentile. Those in the fourth versus the first quartiles of PFOA levels had an odds ratio of 1.71 for hypertension. The associations were independent of confounders, and remained significant even after excluding participants aged over 80 years, those who were pregnant, breastfeeding, or on dialysis, and those not taking antihypertensive medications.

The researchers write in Occupational and Environmental Medicine: "We found that increases in serum PFOA concentration were associated with a significantly increased risk of high homocysteine levels and hypertension in US adults. The association was independent of any other potential confounding variables."

They add: "A mechanism by which PFOA might lead to higher homocysteine levels and blood pressure is unknown. However, some researchers have suggested its role in increasing oxidative stress in the liver and endothelial cells to account for PFOA-related health hazards."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Liam Davenport

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