September 8th, 2010
11:26 AM ET

Chemical linked to rise in kids' cholesterol

A new study published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics suggests that a group of chemicals called "perflorocarbons" can raise bad cholesterol levels in children.

Researchers looked at blood samples of more than 12,000 children, who lived in an area where the drinking water was contaminated with PFOA – one type of perflorocarbon – from a DuPont Chemical factory in Wood County, West Virgina.  The study was completed by the C8 Health Group, formed to study the environmental effects of the contamination from the plant,  and was commissioned as part of a class-action settlement.

"In this study, we saw an increase of about four to six  [cholesterol points], and an increased likelihood of having clinically abnormal cholesterol levels," said Stephanie Frisbee, a research scientist in the Department of Community Medicine at West Virginia University.

Perflorocarbons are found in many common household products, from non-stick cookware to stain-resistant carpets, to waterproof fabrics.  Frisbee said the children in this study were exposed to much higher levels than most Americans, due to the environmental contamination.  But, she said, perflorocarbons have been found at lower levels in the majority of the U.S. population.

"These chemicals are everywhere in the environment – from the Great Lakes, to the arctic to river sludge. We've all got them in our bodies."

Frisbee went on to say that these chemicals haven't been around long enough to determine their long-term health effects, if any.

"These chemicals can be in our bodies for three to five years. The big question is, are they doing any kind of damage while they're in our bodies? We don't know that, and it certainly needs more study."

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Wallace

    Everyone is fixated on reducing BPAs in household products, for good reason. But it's important that people not be distracted from all the other checmicals in our homes: perflorocarbons, phthalates; PFOA; formaldehyde; and PDBEs. I worry about my 9 month old baby.


    September 8, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Michael

    The study was done in Wood County, WVA. Did they control for the diet of the kids and how many Napoli pizzas they ate?

    September 8, 2010 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff S

      Most likely, they would not have published the study if they hadn't.

      September 9, 2010 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
  3. Barb

    until the 1970's when statin drugs hit the market normal cholesterol 300. big pharma convinced the medical establishment to change the standard to 200 to get more patients taking their drugs what a shame with so many side effects.

    September 8, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      In the 1970's people thought eating deep fried butter was a good thing.

      September 8, 2010 at 21:11 | Report abuse |
    • Kirstyloo

      And life expectancy has only gone up since then!

      September 9, 2010 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
  4. Mark S

    Another problem is High Fructose Corn Syrup which is not processed by the body in the same way that regular sugar is.

    September 8, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joan

      But HFCS is ok, just ask the corn industry. Cholesterol drugs are ok, just ask Big Pharma. All things are ok, just ask those who profit. Do your own research, go to natural news.

      September 8, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      So true...and yet the corn industry (probably in conjunction with Big Pharma and various population control groups) keeps runnning their deceptive ads on television.

      September 9, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
  5. kyle

    so shouldn't a study be done with people who regularly cook with nonstick cookware and use the other products? Or give the kids in that area good drinking water for an extended period of time, maybe they're all just lazy and don't exercise hah This site tells you how to lower cholesterol and lose weight http://www.diet-myths.com

    September 8, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. FugginMorons

    As a hardcore conservative I can tell you without a shred of research or proof nothing a company outputs is dangerous. So asking questions or even implying so much is bad for business. And business is as American as it gets.So if you are anti-business or making trouble than you just aren't American. And I know this because it's been beat into my head so darn much it HAS to be true.

    Stop making trouble for Americans and American businesses. These chemicals are either harmless or don't even exist anyway I mean what does a BPA or a PFOA look like anyway? Cmon people. No one would ever damage our environment to make a buck so all of this is fantasy. Besides we don't even need this environment, what a bunch of rubbish, this talk about Save the Earth.


    September 8, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • biteme

      yeah, isn't that your whole point to get people to stop asking questions so you and your cronies can take over and kill the rest of us off?

      September 8, 2010 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
    • Claude

      You must be joking, right? All companies are driven by profit. Cost benefit analysis is the core of business decision making. If the cost of polluting, distributing contaminated food, selling products that damage health, or selling defective products is lower than the cost of not polluting, distributing contaminated food, selling products that damage health, or selling defective products then business has the incentive for proceeding. We must make it too expensive so the cost benefit analysis goes against this bad behavior. This is not anti-business it is pro-consumer.

      September 8, 2010 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Oh FugginMorons, assuming you are being sarcastic – and its safe to say you are - well done.

      September 8, 2010 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • Kirstyloo

      FugginMorons – I wish that I could like this post! It is one of the best tongue in cheek posts I've read in a long time!

      September 9, 2010 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • FugginMorons

      "yeah, isn't that your whole point to get people to stop asking questions so you and your cronies can take over and kill the rest of us off?"
      -No, I just want my country back. Seems that some socialist communist muslim seized power and wants to enact Sharia law and enslave us all. How dare you want to pay for my medical bills.

      "We must make it too expensive so the cost benefit analysis goes against this bad behavior. This is not anti-business it is pro-consumer."
      – Wow this sounds Socialist to me. You no doubt plagiiarized this idea from some Communist Manifesto. What kind of vodka do you drink comrade?

      September 10, 2010 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
  7. Lynne

    It might just be ironic that cholesterol levels are higher in the research study. Traveling around some different states and areas and seeing what is stocked in grocery stores and sold might also give clues about increased cholesterol levels. More studies might need to be done before positively making the connection in the article. I'm not trying to sound prejudiced. My meals and snacks definitely didn't always include healthy components.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. duffy

    Gee, I wonder if the person who posted this could possibly try to spell fluorine correctly? Great for a CNN medical producer to misspell the chemical of interest FORE times.

    September 8, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Peggy

    Great idea – actually know how to spell words correctly, use the correct word (e.g. "there" and "their") and be grammatically correct.

    September 8, 2010 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anal responses

      Peggy and Duffy – come on, there is no need to be super anal about the grammer. If you have something useful to say, OK. Enough with the grammer lessons to show how superior you are!

      I think there are more serious issues in the article to discuss – like how this is affecting our children and the future they have if we keep putting these chemicals into everything within our homes.

      September 8, 2010 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      Anal Responses – its true there are more important issues here, but it really is becoming difficult to read most of what is on the internet because the grammar and spelling are so terrible. I think it is reasonable to be sick of people mixing up "There" and "Their", using wrong verb tenses, etc., because its become so prevalent.

      September 9, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  10. Guest

    apparently environmental chemicals affect everybody except workers exposed to toxic chemicals at work according to OSHA and CalPers and Dr. Harbor at UCLA Medical and Dr. Catherine White (not really her name make up medical report neuropsychologist who can't read an EEG)

    September 8, 2010 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Guest

    apparently environmental chemicals affect everybody except workers exposed to toxic chemicals in tight buildings at work according to OSHA and CalPers and Dr. Harbor at UCLA Medical and Dr. Catherine White (not really her name who makes up medical reports neuropsychologist that can't read an EEG) toxicexposure101 blog

    September 8, 2010 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. JHU

    I question the validity of this study, especially it's external validity. A study is externally valid if the study conclusions represent the truth for the population to which the results will be applied because both the study population and the reader’s population are similar enough in important characteristics. And there are too many other confounding factors at play such as the age, weight, and diet of the children.

    September 8, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Brenda Reed

    I, also, question the validity of the study. We have all seen radical reports shot out to the public before the scientific verification had been accomplished. I fear that this report may be one of those shoot-from-the-hip type statements. If so, it does a disservice to the general public, not to mention specified manufacturers. I always recommend a calm approach and a cool head, until we know for sure exactly what the facts are. I do not believe the facts are in on this particular study, although it will be very interesting to follow up on.

    September 9, 2010 at 04:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. NewlyVegan

    This couldn't possibly be due to the diets of people, especially children is worsening? 1. The more animal protein you eat, the more cholesterol you'll have. 2. A sedintary life restricts the bodies processing of extra cholesterol.

    September 9, 2010 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Drinker

      Myth! More and more research is showing this not to be true. I started eating low carb and my cholesterol dropped like a rock! Exercise does raise good cholesterol levels and is of course very important no matter what.

      September 9, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • JHU

      exactly. You have just identified a confounding factor to this study. Obviously an increase in heavily processed meats will raise cholesterol. The demographics of this study are not clearly identified and are not representative of the U.S. population. You are just contradicting yourself here.

      September 10, 2010 at 03:27 | Report abuse |
  15. Monkey Boy

    Can we take seriously what someone named Frisbee says?

    September 9, 2010 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dr. Mama

    How useful is this information? Yes, it's worrisome. Yes, it's another addition to the toxic-chemicals-that-are-killing-us file. Until we have more detailed knowledge about how this stuff does damage, and how to prevent it, all we can do is try to avoid petrochemicals in our environment. Good luck with that. Sigh.


    September 9, 2010 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Duwayne Anderson

    Yeah. Good luck with that!

    If we had a government that was "of the people, for the people, and by the people" then it would care about the health of the people.

    But we have a government that is owned lock stock and barrel by corporations (thanks in part to the right-wing supreme court) and so it's a government "of the corporations, for the corporations, and by the corporations." And that means there won't be any government intrusion into corporate profits, even if it means we all get sick from environmental contamination.

    None of this will stop until we get corporate money out of politics. That corrupting influence threatens American Democracy more than Communism and radical Islam combined; and it's winning because it owns the halls of government.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Mark

    I've lectured about this for 8 years now. Anyone needing more data to show that toxic chemicals raise cholesterol is living in a bubble with blinkers on. It is a well-known fact, not theory that if you expose a mammal to a toxin their LDL goes up. LDL sequesters chemical toxins and brings it to the liver for removal. Toxicology 101.
    Corporate interests continue to try to muddle the issue by sending in people to confuse the public into believing otherwise. This should be a dead horse issue by liars who benefit from profits gained by using these chemicals spead false rumours.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Laura

    Lookin' in the wrong place. Look at their carb intake....

    September 9, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. JHU

    Ha all chemicals are toxic, it just depends on the dose. Water is toxic if too much is consumed. Just think of the woman who died from holding her urine in an attempt to win a wii for wee. Of couse pfoas are toxic, it just depends on the dose. But don't complain when you make an early morning omelet and it only takes ten seconds to clean the pan.

    September 10, 2010 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. JP Myers

    re JHU's comment. Endocrinologists (experts on hormones) know that the dose issue is much more complicated. Traditional (read regulatory) toxicology testing is done at high levels of exposure because it is assumed that these exposures will reveal all relevant effects. But with hormones, and chemicals that behave like hormones, that assumption is clearly and demonstrably false. The effect of exposure can be very different at low doses compared to high doses. Low doses alter gene expression (and the developmental processes under the control of gene expression) in ways that simply can't be predicted by high dose testing.

    Unfortunately, almost all chemical standards are based on high dose testing only. This has created a system that is incredibly vulnerable to what statisticians call 'false negatives' ...where unsupported assumptions lead to conclusions of safety, when better science would demonstrate harm

    September 10, 2010 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Resonance Specialty chemicals pvt ltd

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    February 11, 2011 at 04:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. John

    Another potential blemish on big business.They better hope this does not turn into another class action effort. Oatmeal is supposed to be real good for anyone with high cholesterol. http://drpatti.com

    May 29, 2011 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. joanna

    excellent read. Cant wait for more

    February 6, 2013 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Olivier81

    Great read. Waiting for more

    February 6, 2013 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Abbey Schellhorn

    The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that a triglyceride level of 100 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) or lower is considered optimal. The AHA says this optimal level would improve your heart health. However, the AHA doesn't recommend drug treatment to reach this level. Instead, for those trying to lower their triglycerides to this level, lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss and physical activity are encouraged. Elevated triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes. ";*^

    Be well

    June 16, 2013 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply

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