Friday, February 17, 2012

New Study Finds Link between Component of Non-Stick Cookware and Lowered Immune Response to Vaccines in Children

A new study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), a common component of non-stick cookware with PTFE, are associated with lowered immune responses in children’s vaccines.  In the study, PFCs seemed to prevent the participants’ bodies from appropriately reacting to vaccines in order to become immunized.  This is the first study to explore the effects of PFCs on the effectiveness of vaccines.
Over the last few decades vaccines have revolutionized the way we are able to prevent diseases.  As Philippe Grandjean, the lead author of this study, explains, “Routine childhood immunizations are a mainstay of modern disease prevention.  The negative impact on childhood vaccinations from PFCs should be viewed as a potential threat to public health.”  This is all the more worrisome because PFCs are so widely used in a variety of products used on a daily basis.

PFCs are compounds with unique properties that make them stain, oil, and water resistant.  As a result, these compounds are used in thousands of products.  We are exposed to PFCs through our mothers before we are born through our environment the rest of our lives.  Due to its prevalence, most Americans have at least some levels of PFCs in their bodies.

The researchers determined the connection between PFCs and vaccines by first administering blood tests to women just before they gave birth and recording the levels of PFCs in their blood.  Then, once those children reached the ages of 5 to 7, the researchers tested their immune responses to tetanus and diphtheria and measured the levels of PFCs in their blood.  With this data, the researchers could then determine the correlation between immune responses to vaccines and levels of PFCs in children during the prenatal and postnatal stages.

The results showed that levels of PFCs during prenatal and postnatal stages were correlated to lower antibody responses to immunizations.  Without a sufficient number of antibodies, there is an increased risk that vaccines will not be able to provide the long-term protection they would otherwise be able to provide.  In some way, PFCs are preventing vaccines from doing their job.

There are several things you can do to avoid PFCs.

1.     Instead of using some non-stick cookware, which contains PFCs, opt for cast iron or stainless steel cookware.

2.     Fast food wrappers often contain PFCs, so avoiding fast food would be a good idea.

3.     Popping popcorn the old-fashioned way will help you avoid PFCs because microwave popcorn bags are often coated with them.

For more tips on avoiding PFCs check out the guide from the Environmental Working Group.

~ Jessica


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