Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are Nonstick Pans Linked to Thyroid Disease?

For several years, synthetic chemicals have been suspected of contributing to common thyroid conditions such as hypo- and hyperthyroidism, as well as thyroid cancer. In the United States, 16 percent of women and 3 percent of men will develop some form of thyroid disease during their lives.

Are common household products to blame? Among the most concerning chemicals are perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are used to make frying pans and waffle irons nonstick. However, they also are sprayed onto stain-resistant carpeting and breathable fabrics, and are used in wood sealants and food packaging — sources that might carry greater risk than nonstick pans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and other sources.

In particular, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are known to be carcinogenic and lead to hormone disruption and liver damage in animals. Meanwhile, a 2010 analysis in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that men and women in the highest quartile for serum PFOA levels were twice as likely to have a thyroid disorder as those with lower levels of PFOA in their systems.

Until conclusive data exist suggesting otherwise, here are some ways to reduce household exposure:

  • Choose unpackaged whole food over packaged, processed foods.
  • Avoid slick, nonstick food packaging like microwave popcorn bags and coated coffee cups.
  • When you're away from home, use a stainless steel mug for hot drinks, and tote your food in reusable glass or ceramic dishware.
  • When eating microwave meals, put them onto a plate rather than heating them in their plastic containers.
  • Use safer alternatives to Teflon like Thermolon (used in Green Pan cookware) or seasoned cast iron.
  • Avoid scratched Teflon pans, which may leach more PFOA into food.
  • Don't overheat your Teflon pan without food in it; when Teflon reaches a temperature of 260 degrees Fahrenheit, it begins to release toxic gases that we can breathe in.
  • For household cleaning, seek natural alternatives like baking soda, white vinegar and vegetable oil-based soaps to get household stains out.
  • Avoid carpeting that has been chemically treated to be stain resistant.
  • To minimize environmental exposures, drink tap water that has been run through a filter tested to eliminate organic compounds.

As a general recommendation in our increasingly toxic environment, make a habit of a cleansing regimen once or twice per year. Use sauna and exercise to work up a sweat for an hour or more at a time. Sweat is one of the best ways to eliminate fat-soluble toxins from the body, including PFCs, and can help protect you from overload of most man-made toxins.

For more information, the Environmental Working Group provides additional research and resources.

Ryan Robbins, ND, is a naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. Call (206) 834-4100 to schedule an appointment.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

More Health Tips

Here are some ways to eat an inexpensive and well-balanced diet consisting of many nutritious whole foods.

Here's how to create a healthy posture to improve your health.

The main benefit of the Paleo diet is that it promotes eating whole, nutritious foods while avoiding refined, processed foods.

While tax season can be daunting and stressful, these are simple, easy ways to help lighten the load.

Behind the calm exterior of a doula is a person who is constantly thinking, strategizing and endeavoring to create an environment to support a pregnant, birthing or postpartum family.

With the recent buzz about gluten- and wheat-free diets, it’s good to know how they compare and if they’re right for everyone.

Events

Apr 19 Continuing Ed

Cannabis has been used since antiquity for a range of therapeutic purposes. The current phenomenon of medical Cannabis use in the U.S. is not well supported by current scientific clinical research due to the legal restrictions of Schedule I status. Regardless, patients are accessing this plant medicine and clinicians are compelled to complete their knowledge base with regard to interaction with patients.
April 19, Sat, 8:30a.m.-5p.m.
Instructor: Michelle Sexton, ND, BS.
(7 CEUs, CMEs)

Apr 19 General

Learn how diet and lifestyle modifications can help you control and prevent type-2 diabetes.

Apr 19 General

Watch your classmates and co-workers battle it out in Top Chef style to raise money to feed the homeless youth of Seattle.

Recent News

David Tolmie, BS ('06), MLIS, combines psychology and technology skills to help students navigate the fast-changing world of evidence-informed medicine.

Coquina Deger, MBA, and David Siebert fill key roles as part of President’s Cabinet

Herbal sciences students cook up foods with love -- and health-giving herbs -- in a popular lab class.

The actor and author joins us for a Q-and-A before her May 22 talk at Bastyr's Spring for Health Luncheon.

Spring 2014: There is a lot blossoming at Bastyr University

Press

Bastyr University Nutrition Faculty Member Receives Prestigious State Honor

The public is invited to a free community event to explore Bastyr University’s teaching clinic

Teaching clinic earns second consecutive year of stellar results in regional patient satisfaction survey

In the Media

FOX Q13: Bastyr University's Ellie Freeman Discusses the FDA’s New Food Labels
Bothell-Kenmore Reporter: Bastyr Center for Natural Health Expands Integrative Oncology Services
Puget Sound Business Journal: Bastyr University's President Daniel Church to Retire