DuPont manufactures a non-stick coating for pans brand-named Teflon. Teflon sealed pans make cooking easier - eggs won't stick to the frying pan and cookies won't stick to the cookie sheet. Yet researchers have long worried about negative effects of Teflon and the chemical compounds used to make it, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): is PFOA a carcinogen? Instead of waiting until the Teflon coating sloughs off in black flakes, should households get rid of their non-stick pans now and return to using PAM and Crisco in mass quantities? PFOA is not exclusively used in Teflon; the chemical is also useful in the production of fast-food paper containers and stain-resistant fabric coatings. The chemical is unique because of how long it lasts in the human body, a fact which perpetuates fears of high cancer risks. DuPont has been resistant to these claims, and maintains that while PFOA is present during manufacturing, its levels are negligible by the time it reaches the kitchen. Environmentalists, scientists, toxicologists, and consumer advocacy groups, among others, cite numerous short-term animal studies that suggest PFOA increases liver toxicity and risks of liver, pancreatic, and thymus cancers. Human studies of the chemical's effects are more rare - they are mostly limited to studies of workers exposed to high levels of PFOA in their factory work environment. Interpreting this data can be difficult, however: the workers are exposed to a number of toxic chemicals and they are exposed to higher concentrations then the user of a Teflon-coated pan would ever be. And the results from animal studies cannot be simplistically transferred to humans - the animals are exposed to the chemical in ways humans would never be, and most animal tests have been short-term, whereas humans could be exposed to PFOAs across their entire lifespan. If Teflon can be shown to increase cancer risks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could take steps to regulate or ban the substance, as advisory panels have already recommended. 1 This would not only cause many Americans to make screening appointments with their physician (and lawyer), but would fundamentally alter the way we cook and the way we in which we regard advances in cookware. The purpose of this study is to review literature on the epidemiologic relationship between perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and an increased risk of cancer
International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities
©2007 International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities
"Teflon and an Increased Cancer Risk Remains Unproven in Humans,"
International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities, 5(1), 101-104.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/ijghhd/vol5/iss1/10