ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
CANCER
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
What you need to know about swine flu.
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
SENIORS
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease

Chemicals found in carpeting, non-stick cookware and fabrics are linked to an increase in thyroid disease, new research suggests.

British researchers analyzed blood serum levels of two types of perfluorinated chemicals in nearly 4,000 U.S. adult men and women, using data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Women whose blood levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was in the highest quartile were more than twice as likely to report having thyroid disease as those in the lowest two quartiles. The findings were similar in men, but the results were not statistically significant.

Among men, researchers found an increase in the likelihood of thyroid disease among those who had high levels of perfluoroctane sulphonate (PFOS) in their blood, but the same association was not found in women.

The researchers cautioned that while the data show an association between the chemicals and thyroid disease, they do not prove cause and effect, meaning there could be other explanations for why people with high levels of the compounds in their blood had more thyroid disease.

"We have provided the first evidence of a statistical association between PFOA blood levels and thyroid disease in the 'ordinary' U.S. adult population," said senior study author Tamara Galloway, a professor of ecotoxicology at University of Exeter. "In this type of human population research, it is not possible to be sure whether this is cause or effect. That needs more research."

The study will be published Jan. 21 in the online issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Thyroid disease is more common in women than men, and recent reports have found the incidence is rising. Among study participants, about 16 percent of women and 3 percent of men had a thyroid disorder at some point.

Perfluorinated chemicals are pervasive in industrial and consumer products, including food packaging, flame-resistant and waterproof clothing, chemical-resistant tubing and stain-resistant coatings for carpets. The chemicals are chosen for their ability to repel heat, water, grease and stains.

Previous research in animals has shown that the compounds may affect the thyroid, which helps maintain heart rate, regulate body temperature, metabolism, reproduction, digestion and mental health, according to background information in the study.

PFOA and PFOS have also been linked to cancer in animal studies, though research in humans have been inconclusive or have not found a link among the general population.

Because of concerns about toxicity, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency got commitments from eight manufacturers of PFOA to reduce emissions and usage of PFOA and related chemicals by 95 percent this year, and to move toward eliminating usage of the chemicals completely by 2015.

But that doesn't mean the chemicals will soon be gone from the environment or people's bodies. PFOA and PFOS are also found in water, air and soil, even in remote areas of the globe. PFOA and PFOS have also been detected in the blood of birds, fish and polar bears.

"The formulations used in consumer goods tend to contain more complex forms of PFOA that are quite soluble and/or volatile and can be transported around the globe via ocean currents and in the atmosphere," Galloway said. "That's why PFOA and related compounds are found in every country so far studied."

In addition, the half-life of PFOA and PFOS in the human body is 3.8 years and 5.4 years, respectively, meaning that's how long it takes for half of the chemical to disappear.

The main source of human exposure to PFOA and PFOS is unknown, but it's believed to be through diet, such as from greaseproof food wrappings, researchers said. People may also inhale household dust that contained PFOA or PFOS from fireproof or waterproof coatings on fabrics or carpeting.

"The good news is that mean exposure concentrations seem to be falling over the last few years, coinciding with voluntary reductions in usage by the main manufacturers," Galloway said.

A large study of people living in Parkersburg, W.V., near a DuPont plant that produced perfluorinated chemicals, is ongoing. The residents have higher concentrations of PFOA in their blood than the general population.

Dr. Stephen Rosen, chief of endocrinology and metabolism at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, said the study adds to a growing body of research that that suggests common household chemicals may have detrimental effects on human health.

Those chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), which has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor with potential consequences for reproduction, and phthalates, which animals studies have also found to be endocrine disruptors.

As for PFOS and PFOA, "this is a nice preliminary study, but I wouldn't want to draw major conclusions from it," Rosen said. "However, it definitely should be studied further. These chemicals are ubiquitous in people's homes, and we need to determine if it could be a trigger for thyroid disease in people genetically predisposed."

SOURCES: Tamara Galloway, Ph.D., professor, ecotoxicology, University of Exeter, England; Stephen Rosen, M.D., chief, endocrinology and metabolism, Pennsylvania Hospital, and clinical associate professor, medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia; Jan. 21, 2010, Environmental Health Perspectives Published on: January 21, 2010