Nonstick pans, microwave popcorn bags, stain-resistant carpet, and breathable all-weather clothing: stuff all of us have some of at home. What of it? Perfluorocarbon, that’s what—it’s a chemical family that includes PFOA and PFOS, about which a recent study showed that the more of them found in your bloodstream, the likelier you are to have high cholesterol, says Best You friend Sarah Knox, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University School of Medicine.
Sarah and her colleagues now give us another reason to be leery of these chemicals. They did blood tests on women aged 42 and older—and found that those with higher levels of PFOA and PFOS were more likely to have experienced early menopause. Early menopause puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and stroke. While it’s possible that women who go through early menopause are simply more likely to accumulate PFOA and PFOS in their blood, Sarah says their presence is still a red flag. “It means we need to investigate it more,” she says. “Personally, I avoid exposure to these chemicals when I can.”
To be safe, look for “PFOA-free” or “PFOS-free” labels on rain jackets before purchasing. Check that nonstick cookware you’ve been ogling, too—though nothing beats the original, your trusty iron skillet.