A women gets her blood pressure taken by a nurse.

Already linked to elevated cancer risks, researchers have now connected PFAS exposure with high blood pressure in middle-aged women. It’s yet another risk factor associated with PFAS, a family of “forever chemicals” that keep popping up everywhere we look. 

To date, PFAS have been found in many elements of what might be mistaken as the “natural” world. These man-made chemicals have been discovered in elevated levels in drinking water, air and wildlife. It’s also in our food, food packaging, clothes, and cooking utensils. That pervasive level of exposure means trouble, particularly for certain kinds of cancer. 

Related: EPA Sets New Health Advisory Levels on Two PFAS Chemicals

PFAS and High Blood Pressure

Add high blood pressure to the list. A study of 1,058 women between the ages of 45 and 56. 470 developed hypertension over the course of a 17-year study. None had hypertension when the study began in 1999. 

The one constant across all 470 women? They had concentrated levels of PFAS in the blood system. 

The risk is more closely associated with specific PFAS chemicals. perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and Perfluorooctanoate were found in 42 and 47% of women with elevated hypertension. There is also evidence that repeated and prolonged exposure to multiple PFAS chemicals elevated the risk of hypertension. 71% of women with the highest third of PFAS concentrations in their blood developed hypertension. 

What Is Hypertension?

Hypertension is a prolonged elevation of blood pressure, which is the force of your blood against your arteries. While blood pressure levels typically change throughout the day, individuals with hypertension have elevated blood pressure all of the time. This can cause or exacerbate other types of cardiovascular disease and increase the risk of a heart attack.

Women may be more susceptible to negative outcomes when it comes to PFAS exposure, despite the face that men face higher levels of exposure and higher concentrations of PFAS when tested. This elevated risk for men is most often due to workplace exposure to chemicals, paints, and other toxic materials. 

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