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Common Chemicals Linked to Risk of Thyroid Problems

PFOA, PFOS -- which have a wide variety of uses -- associated with currently treated thyroid disease

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- High serum levels of the widely used chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctane sulphonate (PFOS) are associated with thyroid disease in adults, according to research published Jan. 20 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

David Melzer, of the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, U.K., and colleagues analyzed data from 3,974 adults participating in several Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1999 to 2006. Participants underwent assessment of polyfluorinated chemicals, and disclosed whether they'd been told they had a thyroid problem, or if they were taking thyroid-related medication for current disease.

The researchers found that women in the top population quartile for PFOA had a greater likelihood of reporting current treated thyroid disease than those in the first two quartiles (odds ratio, 2.24); men showed a similar but non-significant relationship. In men, those in the top quartile of PFOS had a greater likelihood of treated disease than those in the first two quartiles (odds ratio, 2.68), but this association wasn't significant in women.

"Our results are important because PFAAs are detectable in virtually everyone in society with ubiquitous presence across global populations," the authors write. "Further work is clearly needed to characterize the PFOA and PFOS associations with specific thyroid diagnoses and thyroid hormone levels in the general population, and clarify whether the associations reflect pathology, changes in exposure or altered pharmacokinetics."

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