‘Forever chemicals’… you’ve heard us talk about them A LOT here.
They’re endocrine-disrupting chemicals, meaning they alter how our hormones are meant to function.
And since pretty much every function in our body is controlled by hormones — growth, sexual function, hunger, sleep, blood pressure, digestion, to name a few — these chemicals do damage to every aspect of our lives.
They’re called ‘forever chemicals’ because they never break down. They’re lurking in our drinking water; in our cookware, pizza boxes, and cosmetics; in our carpets and furniture; even in our children’s car seats!
Forever chemicals like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have also been established as carcinogens.
But some people still need a little more “proof.”
And they’ve found it, sadly, in a group of men who have been diagnosed with testicular cancer at much higher rates than others…
Making the connection: PFAS and testicular cancer
Gary Flook was a firefighter in the Air Force for 37 years, where he regularly trained with aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, a frothy white fire retardant that is highly effective but is now known to be toxic.
At age 45, Gary received the devastating news that he had testicular cancer and would require both an orchiectomy (surgical removal of the testes) and follow-up chemotherapy to save his life.
Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among active male military personnel. Most of these men, like Gary Flook, are below the age of 40 and in peak physical condition.
This fact, along with the knowledge that AFFF was full of PFAS, prompted two government researchers to look for a more definite connection between PFAS and testicular cancer.
What the study showed
A prior report, federally funded and published in 2022 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, had shown with “moderate confidence” that there is an association between PFAS exposure and thyroid dysfunction, preeclampsia in pregnant women and breast and testicular cancers.
But the new study goes a step further.
It links PFAS exposure directly to testicular germ cell tumors, which make up roughly 95% of testicular cancer cases.
Using banked blood drawn from Air Force servicemen, Dr. Mark Purdue and Dr. Dr. Jennifer Rusiecki of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) found strong evidence that airmen who were firefighters had elevated levels of PFAS in their bloodstream.
They also found that airmen with testicular cancer had higher serum levels of PFOS than those not diagnosed with the cancer.
“To my knowledge,” says Dr. Purdue, “this is the first study to measure PFAS levels in the U.S. military population and to investigate associations with a cancer endpoint in this population, so that brings new evidence to the table.”
How to reduce your risk
Of course, it isn’t just military personnel who are being exposed to these cancer-causing chemicals.
We all are.
Whether we like it or not, “forever chemicals” are everywhere — and they are not easy to avoid. Nevertheless, for your health’s sake, it’s worth trying.
Here are some baby steps to get started…
- Eat organic – Avoid conventional foods and the pesticides they’re coated in and choose only organic fruits and veggies. Follow the guidance of the Environmental Working Group.
- Use less plastic – Whether it’s plastic bowls, plastic wrap or Ziploc baggies, anything that’s made of plastic is made of chemicals.
- Throw out non-stick cookware – Instead of non-stick, choose stainless steel or ceramic cookware to avoid those PFAS.
- Choose chemical-free furniture and mattresses – When shopping for new household items, look for ones without chemicals and flame retardants.
- Pick natural personal care products – Whether it’s deodorant, makeup, or hair care products, look for natural, plant-based options without the chemicals and toxins.
- Help your body take the trash out — support your body’s detox organ, your liver, and eat foods with natural detox or chelating properties.
Study Links ‘Forever Chemicals’ to Testicular Cancer in Military Personnel — Medpage Today
A Nested Case–Control Study of Serum Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Testicular Germ Cell Tumors among U.S. Air Force Servicemen — Environmental Health Perspectives
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