fertility problems linked to forever chemicals


A new study has found that women with higher levels of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” in their blood have a 40% lower chance of becoming pregnant within a year of trying to conceive. This is the first known study on the effect of PFAS on female fertility and highlights the strong correlation between PFAS exposure and reduced fertility.

PFAS are a group of chemicals that are resistant to water and oil, and they are used in various products such as non-stick cookware, food containers, clothing, and furnishings. These chemicals have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because they break down very slowly in the environment and are now widespread in water and soil. They have been linked to various health issues, including cancers, liver, kidney, and thyroid diseases.

The research was conducted in Singapore, where contamination levels are lower compared to the US, but the scientists still found a significant association between PFAS exposure and reduced fertility. It is worth noting that 99% of people tested in the US were found to have PFAS in their bodies. While some PFAS have been banned, over 12,000 chemicals in this class have been produced. The researchers involved in the study are calling for comprehensive regulation of the entire group of PFAS chemicals.

The study, led by Dr. Nathan Cohen from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, included over 1,000 women of child-bearing age in Singapore who were trying to conceive. The researchers measured PFAS levels in their blood and observed the impact of these chemicals on fertility. Women with PFAS levels one quarter higher than the average had a 40% lower likelihood of becoming pregnant within a year and a 34% lower chance of having a live birth within 12 months.

The study also found that the effect on fertility was more pronounced when PFAS chemicals were considered as a mixture rather than individually. This suggests that the combined impact of multiple chemicals can have a greater effect on health. While the study does not provide insight into the specific mechanisms by which PFAS affects fertility, previous research has shown that these chemicals can disrupt hormones, egg production, and function, and are associated with conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The researchers accounted for factors such as age, education, smoking status, and previous children in their analysis. However, they did not have information on PFAS levels in the women’s partners, which could also be relevant. Future studies assessing both parents would be useful in understanding the complete picture.

In addition to its impact on fertility, PFAS exposure can also affect the health of both the mother and baby. It has been linked to conditions like preeclampsia and neurodevelopmental delays. The presence of PFAS in cord blood, the placenta, and breast milk highlights the need to prevent exposure to protect the health of women and their children.

The study’s findings align with an earlier analysis of 13 studies that reported a link between PFAS exposure and reduced fertility in women. This correlation may contribute to the overall decline in female fertility.

Several countries, including five EU nations and the UK, have proposed bans on thousands of PFAS chemicals, recognizing the need to address their widespread use. However, researchers emphasize the importance of regulating the entire group of chemicals rather than a subset. In March, Canadian scientists also developed a new method to capture and destroy PFAS, offering potential solutions to address contamination issues.



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