Women exposed to high levels of chemicals called perfluorocarbons (PFCs) may enter menopause earlier, new research suggests.
PFCs are man-made chemicals found in many household products such as food containers and stain-resistant clothing as well as in water, soil, and plants.
''Before this study, there was strong evidence from animal research that PFCs were endocrine disruptors
," says researcher Sarah Knox, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown.
For the study, she evaluated the levels of two PFCs, called PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoate)
in nearly 26,000 women, ages 18 to 65.
Overall, she found, ''the higher the perfluorocarbons, the earlier the menopause." Women between ages 42 and 64 with the highest blood levels of the PFCs were more likely to have experienced menopause than those with the lowest levels.
One of the chemicals, PFOS, affected levels of the hormone estradiol, a form of estrogen. "The higher the levels of PFOS, the lower the levels of estradiol," she says. As estradiol declines, menopause approaches.
The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.