New data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds that PFAS increases the risk of certain cancers, primarily linked to hormone-related cancers. Despite decades of information that suggests an increased risk of cancer and other diseases, many forms of PFAS continue to be used in thousands of consumer products.

PFAS and Phenols

Another chemical, phenol, was also linked to an increased chance of cancer diagnoses. Phenol is used in many products, including packaging and dyes. Both compounds have a strong association with hormonal-based cancer and have a particularly large impact on female hormonal function.

The study, released in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, is part of a new biomonitoring program run through the CDC. The cohort includes more than 10,000 people and includes data points collected over a 13-year period between 2005 and 2018. Researchers focused on the timing of pre-study and concurrent cancer diagnoses and compared those rates with phenol and PFAS blood levels.

Long-chained PFAS Pose a Greater Risk

Women exposed to a long-chained form of PFAS called PFDE had more than twice the risk of developing melanoma. Two additional compounds, PFNA and PFUA, had a similar correlative relationship with melanoma diagnoses. Researchers were quick to point out that with there is a strong correlation between long-chained PFAS compounds and several types of cancer, studies like these don’t necessarily prove a link.

Researchers also found that race plays a factor. PFAS exposure was more closely linked to ovarian and uterine cancer in white women, while phenol exposure was linked to breast cancer in other races.

Avoidance Is Not an Option

The CDC noted that women with a history or increased risk of melanoma and other cancers can’t effectively avoid PFAS exposure. The agency found that roughly 97% of Americans already have PFAS in their blood, with 45% of US drinking water contaminated.

Organizations like Less Cancer and others are strong advocates against greater PFAS regulation, mandatory clean-ups, and equitable access to clean water.