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National Cancer Institute Launches Studies to Investigate Link Between PFAS and Various Cancers

Perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) is one of thousands of chemicals in a family known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). In 2017, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identified PFOA as a possible carcinogen in humans. To further science’s understanding of the carcinogenicity of PFAS, the National Cancer Institute’s (“NCI”) Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics (“DCEG”) launched a series of studies to identify specific types of cancers associated with PFAS exposures at levels typically found in the general population. Below is a summary of the studies:

  • Kidney Cancer: Results of a study indicated that increased concentrations of PFOA in the blood is associated with an increased risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer. These results demonstrate that exposure to PFOA at levels comparable to the general population is associated with the development of kidney cancer.
  • Testicular Cancer: There is already some evidence suggesting that PFOA is associated with increased risk of testicular cancer. In order to better understand the relationship between PFOA exposure and testicular cancer, NCI is conducting a study on Air Force servicemen who developed testicular cancer. Military sites that have used firefighting foam are known to be a major source of PFAS water contamination.
  • Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer: NCI is conducting a study that will compare the PFAS levels of post-menopausal women who have developed ovarian and endometrial cancer with those that have remained cancer-free.
  • Prostate cancer: There is already evidence that elevated PFOA levels may be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. For instance, firefighters, who have elevated PFOA levels because of exposure to firefighting foam, have a higher risk of prostate cancer than the general population. To further the existing research, DCEG is conducting a study of PFOA levels of men in the general population with a risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Thyroid Cancer: DCEG is conducting a study to investigate whether elevated PFAS levels are associated with increased risks of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and thyroid cancer.
  • Thyroid Cancer and Childhood Leukemia: DCEG is investigating the connection between PFAS and childhood leukemia and thyroid cancer in women.
  • Drinking Water Exposure Assessment: DCEG is examining whether a PFAS drinking water exposure assessment is feasible in a California study population in the hopes that this will establish a framework for future studies of PFAS in drinking water.

Source: National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics


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