The latest study conducted by Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), in Los Angeles, found that ‘forever chemicals’ can lead to a higher risk of non-viral hepatocellular carcinoma — a common liver cancer.
What are forever chemicals?
Commonly named ‘Forever chemicals or per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)’, these are man-made chemicals that do not degenerate.
Dr Pankaj Puri, Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, New Delhi told Indianexpress.com that these chemicals are used while making any product oil, water, and fire resistant. “Since they do not break down, they are also preferred,” he said.
He explained that these chemicals are commonly found on non-stick pans, cosmetics, shampoos, and food packaging among others. “They may not be found on hard surfaces necessarily,” he said.
The effects of ‘forever chemicals’
The research paper read, “ Exposure to high PFOS levels was associated with increased risk of non-viral HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma cancer), and the likely mechanisms were via alterations in glucose, amino acid, and bile acid metabolism.”
It added that these chemicals increase the risk of liver cancer by four and a half times.
Agreed, Dr Puri and said, “There is no denying the fact that they are harmful to our body.” He explained that most cancer cases fall under the categories of-Cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or fatty liver. All the liver cancer cases which do not occur because of the aforesaid reasons might be because of these chemicals.
Acting slowly, “these chemicals can change hormones, impact the immunity, cause liver and kidney cancer,” he explained.
He added that your drinking water might also have the presence of these chemicals because just like other compounds, they can also seep into it.
Dr Puri suggested that one cannot stop the exposure but can sure avoid using cosmetics and other substances containing these chemicals. “Buying textiles and non-stick pans with ‘forever-chemicals’ free label or after seeing their components might help,” he said.
He added that most of the ordered food comes in non-stick plastic so one needs to be careful while ordering as well.
According to a CNN report, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) capped the limits of these chemicals in the drinking water. “The interim advisories updated Wednesday recommend no more than 0.0004 ppt of PFOA and 0.02 ppt of PFOS, so low that the chemicals cannot be reliably detected,” it read.