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PFAS Linked to Obesity

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“Forever chemicals” may be making you fat (as well as sick)

Kingston, RIA University of Rhode Island study has confirmed that increased PFAS content in blood promotes weight gain and makes it harder to keep a lower body weight after weight loss. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS/PFOA) “forever chemicals” have previously been linked to a variety of health conditions, including cancers, liver disease and thyroid disease. The newly-found connection with obesity effectively doubles the health risks caused by this environmental contaminant.

PFAS/PFOA lawsuits have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel in the District of South Carolina, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. Bellwether trials are expected to begin later this year.

Maybe it’s not just diet and exercise

For the study, researchers analyzed PFAS chemicals in 381 blood samples that were already part of a randomized European Commission clinical trial in Europe focused on weight loss planning for obese adults. PFAS exposures in the European participants are quite comparable to levels in America.

No matter the diet to which these participants were assigned, they gained weight if they had elevated PFAS exposures. PFOA, which is one of the chemicals in the PFAS family, and which is commonly found in contaminated drinking water, demonstrated a particularly strong link to obesity. At a one-year follow-up, participants with the most PFOA in their blood were found to have gained about 10 pounds more than those with low levels.

“Our study adds new evidence that being overweight isn’t just about a lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits – PFAS are increasingly suspected to be a contributing factor,” concluded Dr. Phillippe Grandjean, who led the research. Previous studies have shown that PFAS can alter energy metabolism, glucose control and thyroid hormone homeostasis - all of which have implications for weight.

Obesity in America

A little more than 42 percent of American adults are obese, and more than 30 percent are overweight. Overall, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults in the United States are overweight or obese. It particularly affects adults over the age of 60, but younger individuals and children are not immune. More than 44 percent of adults between the age of 40 and 59 suffer from obesity. Twenty percent of children between 2 and 19 are obese, as are 1 in 8 preschoolers.

People who are overweight or suffer from obesity compared to those at a healthy weight are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions. These include:
  • high blood pressure;
  • coronary heart disease;
  • stroke;
  • gallbladder disease;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • sleep apnea and breathing problems;
  • cancer; and
  • mental illnesses.
There seems to be a pattern that a popular culture of fat shaming does not address. Research suggests that the water may be part of the problem.

Decades of water contamination

Developed in the 1940s, PFAS provide water and stain resistance, and have been used in a wide range of consumer and commercial products, including non-stick cookware, food packaging, stain-resistant fabrics, and fire suppression foam. PFAS do not decompose under natural conditions.

Once released, they migrate into soil, ground water, drinking water supply systems and plants. They are eventually ingested by wildlife, livestock, and human beings.

The science behind the clean-up efforts is still in early stages. Efforts at government regulation are similarly in flux. The EPA recently indicated that identifying the extent of PFAS exposures that pose a threat to human health and the environment and pursuing responsible parties for those exposures will be a top enforcement priority of the agency from 2024 to 2027. PFAS and PFOA personal injury lawsuits loom on the horizon for 2024 and may be the most effective way for individuals to seek redress and deter further environmental pollution.

Bellwether trials to begin in June

PFAS 0PFOA lawsuits have multiplied exponentially in the last several years and now involve several distinct sets of plaintiffs. The first tranche of bellwether trials is set to begin in June 2023 with issues of environmental damage. In City of Stuart v. 3M, the city alleges that firefighting foam contained PFAS, which 3M and other defendants knew had been linked to many health problems, including cancer, reproductive problems, and immune system suppression. The city seeks over $100 million in damages to pay for past, present, and future testing, remediation and technological steps taken to remove certain PFAS from the city’s drinking water.

The subset of personal injury bellwether lawsuits is likely to begin in 2024 and will focus on injuries suffered by individuals at Peterson Air Force Base and/or Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and/or the Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster in Pennsylvania.


PFAS Health Risks Legal Help

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an environmental lawyer who may evaluate your PFAS Health Risks claim at no cost or obligation.


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