Common Household Chemicals Linked to Arthritis in Women

A new study is the first to look at the link between osteoarthritis risk and a woman's exposure to a type of common chemical compounds called PFCs.

Osteoarthritis is one of the oldest and most common forms of arthritis and is a chronic condition described as the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint.

Researchers stressed that while their investigation identified a strong link between arthritis and exposure to two specific PFC chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, as of now the finding can only be described as an association, rather than a cause-and-effect relationship.

Using six years of data from a representative sample of the U.S. population, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey discovered that 25% of women that had the greatest exposure to PFOA were about twice as likely to suffer from osteoarthritis as the 25% with the least amount of exposure. This stayed true even after adjusting for factors such as age, income and race or ethnicity. The risk appeared to be strongest for women between the ages of 20 and 49, and lower for older women, but the researchers said more follow-up research is needed to confirm that observation.

Interestingly, researchers did not find a similar risk among men regarding these chemicals. This may be due to hormonal differences between men and women.

PFCs can be found in everything from nonstick cookware to take-out food containers, grease-proofing of food packaging, waterproofing of rain gear, and textile stain protection. 3M no longer uses it for its flagship product Scotchgard, but the PFCs may still remain in many carpets and upholstery. PFCs may even be found in dental floss and a certain cosmetics, including nail polish, facial moisturizers and eye make-up.

Previous research has linked PFC exposure to a higher risk for the premature onset of menopause in women, higher levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol in men and women, and reduced effectiveness of routine vaccinations among children.

While the biological reason behind the potential connection between women, PFCs and arthritis remains unclear, the research team suggested that the chemicals may have a particularly profound impact on their hormonal balance. Our hormone systems are incredibly delicate and can be thrown off by even small doses of hormone-disrupting chemicals, and processes like inflammation and cartilage repair are associated with our hormones, and are also associated with osteoarthritis.

The problems of PFCs are likely to persist for years to come despite a safety-driven downward trend in global PFOA/PFOS use. Once these chemical compounds get into the environment they are there to stay. When these get into people, they linger for years. Even though there has been a movement to reduce the use of these chemicals, they're still going to be around and in our bodies for a long time.

While the causes of osteoarthritis are not fully understood, inflammation, abnormal calcium homeostasis, and oxidative stress are thought to be involved. The growing age of the population and increases in obesity are also believed to be contributing factors.

Now, it appears that we may have PVC compounds altering hormonal balance, leading to increased cases of osteoarthritis.

While we cannot avoid PVCs altogether, one of the best things we can do is to lead a healthy lifestyle, get regular exercise and eat well. Taking these steps can reduce susceptibility to other factors that are beyond our control.

Variation in hormone levels can have huge effects on how we feel, think, and function. Hormone levels in women begin to drop off as early as age 30 and plummet from there, with a woman’s testosterone levels being the first to fall. Menstruation becomes unpredictable, mood swings occur, signs of PMS develop, hair begins to thin, and weight gain starts to be a stubborn problem.

We recommend starting with the natural approach. Our experience shows the most thorough and lasting way to manage symptoms of hormonal imbalance is to listen to your body and build a strong foundation through lifestyle and nutrition.

A wonderful natural formula to help you balance your hormones and live a longer, healthier life is Women’s Natural Balance (click here to view), a safe, and effective daily supplement that contains many of the top ingredients. This specially blended formula contains many safe and all natural substances that include black cohosh, soy isoflavones, red clover, Mexican yams and red raspberry extract.

The most important thing you can do if you suspect you have any form of arthritis is to get a proper diagnosis and begin treatment. Your doctor will use four main tools to determine your diagnosis: your medical history, a physical exam, X-rays and joint aspiration.

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