Study Uncovers Impact of ‘Forever Chemicals’ on Heart Health in Older Women

New findings from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have shed light on the potential risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” on the cardiovascular health of postmenopausal women. The study reveals how PFAS chemicals can interact with pro-inflammatory pathways in older women, potentially increasing their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Lead researcher Alicia Arredondo Eve, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Illinois, emphasized the importance of understanding the biological mechanisms behind PFAS exposure and cardiovascular disease in menopausal women. These chemicals are ubiquitous in our daily lives, found in nonstick pans, waterproof clothing, food packaging, and even our water supply, making them difficult to avoid.

Research indicates that nearly all Americans have traces of PFAS in their bodies, with postmenopausal women being particularly vulnerable to their effects. These chemicals have been linked to hormone disruption and cardiovascular issues, especially in older women who have ceased menstruating.

In a study involving 70 postmenopausal women in Turkey, researchers identified correlations between PFAS levels and different types of heart disease. They found that certain PFAS chemicals were associated with specific cardiovascular conditions, highlighting the complex relationship between chemical exposure and health outcomes.

Despite the challenges posed by PFAS exposure, the researchers believe that education and regulation can help mitigate the risks associated with these chemicals. By choosing PFAS-free products and advocating for stricter environmental policies, individuals can reduce their exposure and protect their health.

Moving forward, the research team plans to further investigate the impact of PFAS on women’s health, aiming to provide valuable insights into the long-term effects of these pervasive chemicals. By raising awareness and conducting additional studies, they hope to empower women to make informed choices regarding their exposure to PFAS and promote a healthier future for all.

Alicia Arredondo Eve is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She holds a Ph.D. in a related field and specializes in studying the impact of environmental chemicals on human health, with a focus on women’s cardiovascular health. Throughout her career, Eve has contributed valuable research to the field of toxicology and continues to advocate for greater awareness of environmental risks to public health.