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Ditch Non-Stick Cookware to Protect Yourself from Cancer and High Cholesterol

nonstick panChildren and teens who have high blood levels of chemicals used in the production of non-stick cookware may be more likely to have elevated LDL cholesterol levels, according to a report.

Humans are exposed to perfluoroalkyl acids, such as PFOA and PFOS, through drinking water, dust, food packaging, breast milk, cord blood, microwave popcorn, air and occupational exposure.

Recent survey results reported detection of these chemicals in almost all people in the U.S.

Newswise reports:

“[Researchers] assessed serum lipid levels in 12,476 children and adolescents (average age 11.1) ...

[H]igher PFOA levels were associated with increased total cholesterol and LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol.”

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

You might have heard that non-stick pans were dangerous to use, but I have to tell you that they are perfectly safe.,. Just so long as you don’t actually cook with them, because the moment you heat them, they start to liberate fluoride vapors that are so toxic they will kill small birds.

Ninety-five percent of Americans, including children, have the perfluorinated compound PFOA in their blood. But that’s not all.

The CDC’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, 2009 (which is considered the most comprehensive assessment to date of the exposure of the U.S. population to chemicals in our environment), detected not just PFOA, but a total of 12 different types of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in Americans tested.

It’s easy to see how such a vast majority of people can be exposed when you consider the most common sources of these chemicals, which includes:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Packaging for greasy foods
  • Stain-proof clothing
  • Carpet and fabric protectors
  • Flame retardants, and products that contain them

As you can see, some of the most commonly used household products contain these chemicals.

Beware: Your Cookware May Be Poisoning You

Although it may be quite difficult to eliminate all sources of these toxins since they’re so pervasive, you would likely make a significant dent in your family’s exposure simply by swapping out your non-stick cookware, considering you use your pots and pans to cook almost every day of the week.

So-called “non-stick” cookware is a MAJOR source of PFC’s, particularly perflurorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA, and these pans quickly reach temperatures that cause the non-stick coating to begin breaking down, releasing its toxins into the air.

When your non-stick pot or pan reaches 680 degrees F or 360 C (which takes about three to five minutes of heating), at least six toxic gases are released. At 1,000 degrees F, the coatings on your cookware break down into a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB.

These chemicals are easily absorbed by your body and the food in the pan, turning that healthy, home-cooked meal toxic...

The Many Health Dangers of PFCs

Researchers have already linked various PFC’s to a range of health dangers. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels are just the beginning of the problems these chemicals can cause.

In animal studies, PFOA has been associated with:

  • "Significant increases in treatment related deaths" in rat offspring at doses that did not affect the mothers
  • Serious changes in the weight of various organs, including the brain, prostate, liver, thymus, and kidneys
  • The deaths of a significant number of rat pups of mothers that had been exposed to PFOA
  • Damage to the pituitary at all doses in female rat offspring (The pituitary secretes hormones that regulate growth, reproduction, and many metabolic processes. Change in pituitary size is associated with toxicity)

Other studies have shown that PFC’s can cause:

  • Infertility -- A study published in the journal Human Reproduction last year found that both PFOA and another kind of PFC, called PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), dramatically increased the odds of infertility. PFOS increased the risk of infertility anywhere from 70 to 134 percent, while PFOA was linked to a 60 to 154 percent increase in the chance of infertility.
  • Thyroid disease -- Another study published in May of this year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that PFOA can damage your thyroid function. Individuals with the highest PFOA concentrations were more than twice as likely to report current thyroid disease, compared to those with the lowest PFOA concentrations. Your thyroid contains thyroglobulin protein, which binds to iodine to form hormones, which in turn influence essentially every organ, tissue and cell in your body. Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. Thyroid disease, if left untreated, can lead to heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis.
  • Cancer -- PFOA has been associated with tumors in at least four different organs in animal tests (liver, pancreas, testicles and mammary glands in rats), and has been associated with increases in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers. The EPA has ruled PFCs as “likely carcinogens,”  and has stated that PFOA “poses developmental and reproductive risks to humans.”
  • Immune system problems -- Several studies by scientists in Sweden indicate that PFC’s have an adverse effect on your immune system. As described in the EWG report on PFC’s, PFOA was found to decrease all immune cell subpopulations studied, in the thymus and spleen, and caused immunosupression.
  • Increased LDL cholesterol levels – This latest study in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine implicates both PFOA and PFOS. Children and teens with higher PFOA levels had higher levels of total cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol, while PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, including both LDL cholesterol and HDL or “good” cholesterol. Newswise states that “animal studies have identified the liver as the primary organ affected by perfluoroalkyl acid exposure, with potential effects in humans including alterations in cholesterol levels.”

For more information on the studies linking PFC’s with various health problems, please review the Environmental Working Groups extensive report on this topic.

What is Our Government Doing about These Chemicals?

The answer to that question is: not much...

While the EPA convinced 3M, the primary manufacturer of PFOS, to stop producing it about ten years ago, the chemical still continues to saturate the market – and hence our environment, and our bodies.

PFOS has been found to be a highly persistent, bioaccumulative toxin, with an estimated half-life of four years in humans.

In 2006, the EPA invited eight companies to participate in a voluntary PFOA phase-out program, with the aim to reduce emissions and products containing PFOA and other closely related chemicals by 2010, and to eliminate them entirely by 2015.

However, the key word there is “voluntary.”  And according to a report by the Environmental Working Group, this voluntary arrangement has failed miserably in granting consumers any real protection against these chemicals.

The EWG states:

“That the stewardship program is voluntary also means that companies can choose whether they want to opt in at all – and not a single company from China is participating.

Biomonitoring data from China where production of PFOS and other PFCs continues indicate that the levels of these chemicals are increasing in the bodies of Chinese citizens. These disconcerting findings are evidence that a US-only voluntary program will likely not be sufficient to protect American consumers from PFC contamination of everyday products given the massive quantity of goods the US imports from China.

This is especially a concern when it comes to food packaging, for China is the third largest producer of packaging in the world, and food packaging is considered to be an important source of exposure to PFCs.”

Don’t Wait -- Take Action NOW to Protect Your Health

I strongly recommend you take matters into your own hands and ditch any products you know contain these toxic compounds. Clearly the industry is not going to make voluntary changes to their business on your behalf.

Granted, this is by no means an all-inclusive list, but eliminating the following products from your home would be a good start:

  • Non-stick cookware: Replace it with either ceramic or glass. My personal choice is ceramic cookware, because it’s very durable and easy to clean, and there’s no risk it leaching harmful chemicals.  For even more in-depth information about non-stick cookware, please review my free special report on this topic.
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Stain-proof clothing
  • Stain-resistant carpeting
  • Flame retardants and products that contain them
  • Certain household cleaning products

The Environmental Working Group has done a more extensive search for common products containing PFC’s. You can look through their listings here.

Avoiding these products is especially crucial for pregnant women or couples who want to have children, but really anyone who is interested in protecting their health would benefit by avoiding them.