Study: PFAS exposure may cause early menopause in women

Exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) might cause menopause to occur two years earlier, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Known as forever chemicals, PFAS are man-made and used in a wide variety of nonstick and waterproof products, as well as firefighting foams. PFAS chemicals can contaminate drinking water, and it has been estimated that 110 million Americans—about one-third of the populations—could be consuming drinking water that is contaminated with these chemicals.

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"PFAS are everywhere. Once they enter the body, they don't break down and build up over time," said lead author Ning Ding, who is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has a master's of public health. "Because of their persistence in humans and potentially detrimental effects on ovarian function, it is important to raise awareness of this issue and reduce exposure to these chemicals." "Associations of Perfluoroalkyl Substances with Incident Natural Menopause: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation" was published in the online version of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism ahead of print.

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The researchers studied 1,120 women, ages 45-56, from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, a 17-year-long prospective cohort study. Of those participants, 578 experienced natural menopause.

Based on the level of PFAS in their blood, the women were classified in four categories: low, low-medium, medium-high and high.

Women in the high group experienced natural menopause a median of two years earlier compared to the women in the low group.

"Even menopause a few years earlier than usual could have a significant impact on cardiovascular and bone health, quality of life, and overall health in general among women," said corresponding author Sung Kyun Park, who has a doctorate of science and a master's of public health, and is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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Other authors include Siobán D. Harlow, John F. Randolph Jr., Bhramar Mukherjee and Stuart Batterman of the University of Michigan School of Public Health; Antonia M. Calafat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia; and Ellen B. Gold of the University of California in Davis, California. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Environmental Health, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Institute of Nursing Research.

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Source: Endocrine Society