High levels of exposure to chemicals found in both non-stick pans and takeout containers is associated to increased cancer risk, weakened immune function, and developmental delays in children.
More people are requiring liver transplants later in life, and scientists have linked higher rates of liver disease to exposure to industrial chemical compounds.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is expected to become the primary cause of liver transplants in the coming decade, according to scientists. It is estimated that the disease affects 25% of the world’s population.
The risk of liver disease is influenced by a number of factors. Obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol have all been identified as risk factors.
According to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists have discovered that exposure to chemicals known as PFAS, which are extremely slow to break down in the body, is connected to an elevated risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, are notoriously difficult to eliminate once created. PFAS are common additives in everything from rain gear to takeout containers because of their waterproof, stain-resistant, and grease-resistant characteristics.
High levels of PFAS exposure have been associated to increased cancer risk, weakened immune function, and developmental delays in children.
Environmental health researchers have suspected a link between PFAS and liver damage for years, but a large-scale review was necessary to verify it, according to lead author Elizabeth Costello.
More than 100 papers evaluating PFAS exposure and liver damage in human and rodent populations were assembled by Costello and colleagues at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
According to Costello, the research showed that exposure to three well-known PFAS was associated with increased levels of an enzyme that is linked to liver damage. PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA are the three compounds that have been investigated the most.
Newer PFAS produced to replace banned or blacklisted compounds have less evidence, yet the authors believe that because they have a similar structure, they will behave similarly to the most well-known PFAS.
PFAS exposure may have the same effect on the liver as a high-fat diet.
The scientists also pointed out that because PFAS are chemically similar to fatty acids, they mimic the impact of eating a lot of fat on the liver.
The chemicals attach to fatty acid receptors in rodents, triggering aberrant fat storage in the liver, according to research. This effect was connected to increased cholesterol, triglycerides, and uric acid, all of which are markers of fatty liver disease.