Nonstick cookware is convenient. With its ability to keep the eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pan, it could even make you feel like a better cook! But that ease in the kitchen should come with a warning label. Certain nonstick chemicals are linked to high cholesterol and thyroid disease, and according to the latest evidence—osteoarthritis.
A new study appearing online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that women with higher levels of hormone-disrupting, nonstick perfluorinated compounds like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in their blood were more likely to have arthritis.
Used in hundreds of consumer products for its unique water- and stain-repelling properties, this class of nonstick chemicals is found not just in nonstick cookware, but in stain-repellent furniture and carpeting and greaseproof paper fast-food wrappers, too.
Although scientists aren't exactly sure of how PFOA and PFOS may cause osteoarthritis, they have a hunch. "Experimental findings suggest they have the potential to alter the delicate balance of our natural hormones involved with inflammation, cartilage repair, and other factors related to the disease," explains environmental health researcher Sarah Uhl, Presidential Management Fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency.
She says since women are disproportionately impacted by osteoarthritis, her team's findings are of potential public health importance and deserve more study.
To help reduce your risk from these chemicals, trade in your nonstick pans and kitchen tools for safer versions when they start showing chips and scratches. Better bets include cast iron, ceramic, glass, and stainless steel. Eliminating trips through fast-food drive-thru's will limit your exposure to harmful food packaging.
For more ways to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals in the home, read 12 Household Toxins You Should Banish from the Home.