People who eat more home-cooked meals have lower levels of ‘forever chemicals’ linked to cancer and infertility in their bodies, study finds
- PFAS are ‘forever chemicals’ found in nonstick and waterproof coatings that are often in food and are linked to a wide array of health problems
- Certain foods are thought to have much higher levels of the toxins than others
- Silent Spring researchers found it’s not just what you eat but where you eat that alters exposure to PFAS
- People who ate lots of fast food and popcorn had higher levels of the chemicals
- But Americans who mostly cooked their own groceries at home had lower levels
Home cooking is back in style – and a new study suggests that making your own meals protects you from toxic ‘forever chemicals’ linked to reproductive and immunity problems and cancer, a new study suggests.
Scientists at the Silent Spring Institute found that people who ate home-cooked meals more often had fewer of these chemicals, known as PFAS, in their bodies.
These chemicals can be found in many places in our environment, and get into our food – especially certain products’ packaging, such as fast food wrappers and the bags microwaved popcorn is cooked in.
But cooking at home can cut your exposure to PFAS, helping to protect you against certain cancers and thyroid problems – all while ensuring there are more nutrients packed into every bite you take.
Making more of your own meals at home – instead of eating out or ordering in – may keep the levels toxic ‘forever chemicals’ linked to cancer in your body lower, new research suggests
There’s no perfect protection against environmental toxins, especially those that never go away, like PFAS.
PFAS – shorthand for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – were a revelation when chemists developed them in the 1930s.
The chemicals made possible now-ubiquitous household items like non-stick cookware, and waterproof fabric coatings, as well as incredibly powerful fire-extinguishing foams.
Foams like these have undoubtedly saved many lives.
But animal studies suggest they’ve put virtually all of us in the US at elevated risks of a number of health problems.
Exposure to these chemicals, which do not break down in the environment or body, have been linked to poorer fertility, higher cholesterol, hormonal and immune system disruptions, higher cholesterol and higher risks of cancer.
They’re found in many foods, but not in equal prevalence from product to product.
So the chemists at Silent Spring used data on the dining habits and blood levels of PFAS in over 10,000 Americans to work out which eating patterns were best and worst for PFAS exposures.
People who ate out at restaurants of any kind had more frequently had higher levels of PFAS floating around their bodies.
Although they didn’t analyze the packaging itself, the researchers suspect that the more wrappers and packaging your food touches, the more PFAs sneak into what you eat.
And, as they suspected, popcorn lovers were some of the worst-off.
Home cooks, on the other hand, were protected.
The more often people not only ate at home – indulging in take out – but bought groceries and cooked them themselves, the lower there PFAS expoures were.
‘This is the first study to observe a link between different sources of food and PFAS exposures in the US population,’ said Dr Laurel Schaider, a Silent Spring chemist and study co-author.
‘Our results suggest migration of PFAS chemicals from food packaging into food can be an important source of exposure to these chemicals.’