High Levels of PFCs Might Bring Early Menopause

Study found exposure to chemicals may disrupt a woman's endocrine system

WEDNESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Women with higher levels of certain chemicals used in many household products have lower levels of estrogen and are more likely to experience early menopause, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in products such as toys, clothing, furniture, carpets, paints and plastic food containers. This new study of 25,957 women, aged 18 to 65, found an association between PFC exposure, decreased levels of the female sex hormone estradiol, and early menopause in women over age 42.

The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The widespread use of PFCs has led to their presence in water, air, soil, plants, animals and humans. One study found that 98 percent of American adults have measurable concentrations of PFCs, according to background material in the study.

"There is no doubt that there is an association between exposure to PFCs and onset of menopause, but the causality is unclear," study author Sarah Knox, of West Virginia University School of Medicine, said in a journal news release. "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."

It's known that PFCs have a number of harmful effects, including increased cardiovascular risk and immune system impairment.

"Our findings suggest that PFCs are associated with endocrine disruption in women and that further research on mechanisms is warranted," Knox said.

More information

The Environmental Working Group has more about PFCs.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, news release, March 23, 2011

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