Healthy living

Household chemicals linked to early menopause

Household chemicals linked to early menopause PFCs

Chemicals found in a large number of household items may increase the odds of women having an early menopause, a study found.

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are man-made chemicals which are found in many everyday household items, including food containers, non-stick pots and pans, clothing, furniture, carpets and paints.

PFCs have become ubiquitous in the environment and can be found in water, air, soil, plant life, animals and humans, even in the most remote parts of the world.

A probability sample of U.S. adults, found measurable concentrations of PFCs in 98 percent of those tested.

In the study, US researchers tested PFC levels in the blood of more than 25,000 women aged between 18 and 65 years.

Women over the age of 42 with high levels of PFCs were more likely to experience an early menopause. The same group also had significantly lower concentrations of the hormone oestrogen compared to the women with low levels of PFCs.

Dr Sarah Knox, who led the study said: "The current study is the largest ever to be done on the endocrine-disrupting effects of perfluorocarbons in human women.

"Our data shows that after controlling for age, women of perimenopausal and menopausal age in this large population are more likely to have experienced menopause if they have higher serum concentrations of PFCs than their counterparts with lower levels.

"Part of the explanation could be that women in these age groups have higher PFC levels because they are no longer losing PFCs with menstrual blood anymore, but, it is still clinically disturbing because it would imply that increased PFC exposure is the natural result of menopause."

She also added: "Our findings suggest that PFCs are associated with endocrine disruption in women and that further research on mechanisms is warranted."

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

This article was published on Thu 24 March 2011

Image © Shariff Che'Lah -

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