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12-09-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Common manufacturing chemicals linked to lipid elevations in children


Free abstract

MedWire News: Serum concentrations of chemicals used in the manufacture of nonstick pans are positively associated with lipid levels in children, research shows.

The findings emerge from the C8 Health Project, which arose from a lawsuit regarding water contamination by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in several districts of West Virginia and Ohio, USA.

Serum PFOA levels in the 12,476 12- to 19-year-olds in the study were thus elevated, at an average of 29.3 ng/ml, compared with 3.9 ng/ml among similar-aged participants in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) levels were similar, at 19.1 and 19.3 ng/ml, respectively.

After accounting for confounders, PFOA and PFOS were positively associated with levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while high-density lipoprotein levels rose in line with serum PFOS.

Specifically, there were 4.6-mg/dl (0.12 mmol/l) and 3.8-mg/dl (0.10 mmol/l) increases in total and LDL cholesterol, respectively, between participants in the first and fifth quintiles of PFOA. The corresponding values between the first and fifth quintiles of PFOS were 8.5 and 5.8 mg/dl (0.22 and 0.15 mmol/l).

The relationships were nonlinear, Stephanie Frisbee (West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, USA) and team report in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

"The nonlinear nature of the observed associations, particularly for PFOA, suggests a possible saturation point in an underlying physiologic mechanism," they comment.

For PFOA, the largest increases in serum lipids were seen in the first quintile of serum PFOA concentrations (0-25 ng/ml).

"PFOA and PFOS specifically, and possibly perfluoroalkyl acids as a general class, appear to be associated with serum lipids, and the association seems to exist at levels of PFOA and PFOS exposure that are in the range characterized by nationally representative studies," conclude Frisbee et al.

The researchers stress that causality cannot be proven in a cross-sectional study, but note that the findings are consistent with those in adults.

They add: "Should the association prove to be etiologic, the cumulative effects of such an elevation in cholesterol on long-term cardiovascular health are unclear given the early age at which these associations were observed."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Eleanor McDermid