Exposure to chemicals in plastics linked to cancer diagnoses: Study

There’s an association between higher levels of phenols and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” and previous diagnoses of different types of cancer, researchers from the University of South California found.

The study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, looked at data from 10,000 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2018, digging into people’s environmental exposures to both types of chemicals and history of cancer diagnoses.

The team found that women who had higher levels of PFAS and phenols in their blood were more likely to have had a previous diagnosis of melanoma, ovarian cancer or uterine cancer.

PFAS “are found in everyday products like non-stick cookware or food containers and in some cases, even in drinking water,” said Max Aung, an assistant professor in the Division of Environmental Health at the University of Southern California and co-author of the new study. Phenols, like BPA, are mixed into plastics to make them more durable.

Even if people can take individual actions to minimize risk, Aung advocates for better regulations and policy change.

“As public health researchers, it is our duty to address these realized public concerns and conduct studies to better inform insight about PFAS exposure and associated health risks,” he said last year in a press conference hosted by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

See the video above to learn more about the new study.