How To Get Diabetes From Cookware and Clothing
Your cookware and clothing choices may have an effect on your risk of type 2 diabetes. That’s because they, like a few other common items, contain toxins called perfluorinated compounds that are associated with diabetes risk.
What are perfluorinated compounds?
Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are a family of chemicals that contain fluorine. They are popular because they make materials like textiles, cardboard, carpeting, and metals resistant to stains and sticking.
Therefore, PFCs can be found in hundreds of items ranging from non-stick cookware (Teflon) to stain-resistant clothing (e.g., GoreTex) and fabric furniture, fire-fighting foams, paints, pizza delivery boxes, microwave popcorn bags, fast-food containers, dental floss, denture cleaners, shampoos, and hardwood floor protectants, among others. Chances are you have some of these items in your home right now.
Although there are many different forms of PFCs, the two most common ones are PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is found in Teflon products; and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), a breakdown factor of chemicals that once were used to make Scotchgard® items. In addition to exposure to products that contain PFCs, manufacturers have been releasing these toxins into the environment for decades where they can contaminate the water supply and food.
Studies of PFCs and diabetes
At Uppsala University in Sweden, researchers evaluated blood samples from more than 1,000 men and women age 70 years old to determine levels of seven different PCFs. The authors then checked to see how those levels related to the presence of diabetes, which was present in 114 participants.
- All seven PFCs were detected in nearly every study participant
- High levels of PFCs, especially one called perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), were linked to diabetes
- PFOA was found to interfere with secretion of insulin from the pancreas
The authors noted that their findings highlight the question as to whether high levels of PFCs can be linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, as have other environmental toxins, such as pesticides, PCBs, and phthalates. PFCs have already been shown to cause liver and kidney damage in animals and have been linked to lower birth weight in human and animal studies.
Another recent study explored the impact of PFOS on glucose and lipid homeostasis in adult rats. The researchers wanted to determine what impact PFOS would have on pregnant rats and their offspring after exposure to PFOS.
They discovered that PFOS exposure during pregnancy and lactation resulted in low body weight from birth to weaning as well as signs of prediabetes, including elevated fasting insulin and leptin levels (leptin is a substance that regulates energy intake and use) and glucose tolerance. The authors concluded that “developmental exposure to PFOS may contribute to glucose and lipid metabolic disorder in adulthood.”
The findings of these studies are not conclusive, yet they suggest exposure to common environmental toxins place people at an increased risk of developing diabetes. Since PFCs are already considered to be a likely carcinogen and have raised other health questions (e.g., ADHD), it seems wise to avoid them as much as possible.
Lind L et al. Circulating levels of perfluoroalkyl substances and prevalent diabetes in the elderly. Diabetologia 2013 December
Ly Z et al. Glucose and lipid homeostasis in adult rat is impaired by early-life exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate. Environmental Toxicology 2013 Sep; 28(9): 532-42