‘Forever chemical’ exposure linked to higher cancer odds in women

New research finds evidence that exposure to PFAS and phenols increases odds of certain ‘hormonally driven’ cancers for women

Women exposed to several widely used chemicals appear to face increased odds for ovarian and other types of cancers, including a doubling of odds for melanoma, according to new research funded by the US government.

Using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a team of academic researchers found evidence that women diagnosed with some “hormonally driven” cancers had exposures to certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are used in thousands of household and industrial products, including in stain- and heat-resistant items.

They found similar links between women diagnosed with cancer and high exposures to phenols, which are commonly used in food packaging, dyes and personal care products.

“People should care about this because we know that there is widespread human exposure to these chemicals and we have documented data on that,” said Max Aung, assistant professor of environmental health at the USC Kreck School of Medicine and a senior author of the study. Read more about JPB Fellow Max Aung’s research.