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ARE PFASS THE NEW BPA?

The chemicals found in certain cookware could lead to weight gain and other health problems.

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THE SCIENCE
Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) found in nonstick cookware, waterproof outdoor gear, cosmetics, and even drinking water might cause weight gain, particularly in women, according to a new study.
EXPERT INSIGHT
It’s likely that these chemicals drag down your resting metabolic rate, meaning your baseline calorie burn is slower than it should be, says study author Gang Liu, Ph.D., research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard. Previous studies have suggested PFASs may interfere with endocrine systems and harm estrogen metabolism, which might explain why women are especially at risk.

PFASs are also believed to negatively affect fertility, hormone production, cholesterol levels, and the immune system. What’s more, roughly 98 percent of Americans have some levels of it in their bloodstream, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While further research is needed, Liu believes it’s a good idea for healthy athletes to start curtailing their exposure to the chemical. In addition to the laundry list of negative effects, it takes about three to eight years for it to leave your system, notes Liu.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There isn’t a PFASs sticker on everything that contains the chemical, but you can still knock out the heaviest hitters. Trade your nonstick cookware for stainless steel, glass, or cast iron and cook from scratch as much as possible to avoid chemical-laden takeout containers and PFASs-treated microwave popcorn bags. It’s also a good idea to seek out cosmetics and shampoos that don’t contain “PTFE” or “fluoro” ingredients, which are derivatives of PFASs.