Chemicals Linked to Early Menopause

Study Suggests Exposure to Chemicals Called PFCs May Be Associated With Earlier Menopause


By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News

March 25, 2011

Women exposed to high levels of chemicals called perfluorocarbons (PFCs) may enter menopause earlier, new research suggests.

PFCs are man-made chemicals found in many household products such as food containers and stain-resistant clothing as well as in water, soil, and plants.

”Before this study, there was strong evidence from animal research that PFCs were endocrine disruptors,” says researcher Sarah Knox, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown.

For the study, she evaluated the levels of two PFCs, called PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoate) in nearly 26,000 women, ages 18 to 65.

Overall, she found, ”the higher the perfluorocarbons, the earlier the menopause.” Women between ages 42 and 64 with the highest blood levels of the PFCs were more likely to have experienced menopause than those with the lowest levels.

One of the chemicals, PFOS, affected levels of the hormone estradiol, a form of estrogen. “The higher the levels of PFOS, the lower the levels of estradiol,” she says. As estradiol declines, menopause approaches.

The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

PFCs and Menopause

The 26,000 women were participants in the C8 Health Project. It collected information on more than 69,000 people from six public water districts contaminated by PFOAs from the DuPont Washington Works Plant near Parkersburg, W. Va., between August 2005 and August 2006. (C8 is another name for PFOA).

The work was funded by the settlement agreement arising from the water contamination case, Leach vs. E.I.Dupont de Nemours & Co.

Knox asked each woman about her menopausal status and then looked at blood levels of the PFCs. She found an association between high blood levels and menopause onset, she says, but not cause and effect.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.