Praedicat has been tracking perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) since our inception. They are used in a wide range of applications, including fire retardant foams, food-contact materials, water repellents like Scotchgard, and non-stick coatings like Teflon.
They are also highly persistent in both the environment and in human bodies and are so ubiquitous that nearly every American has a detectable level of PFCs in their blood. Scientists have also long been investigating several hypotheses of bodily injury due to PFC exposure, primarily endocrine disruption and congenital injuries.
In a paper published in PLOS Medicine, the scientists conducted a rare prospective trial to determine whether PFCs affected weight loss. While they found that PFC levels did not affect how much weight the participants lost in the first six months, PFC levels did affect how much weight the participants regained. Furthermore, they were able to identify a potential mechanism for this effect: lowering the resting metabolic rate.
Single studies don’t often move the needle on the overall acceptance of a well-studied scientific hypothesis, but this study has the potential to do so. It helps establish the possibility that PFCs can, in principle, contribute to obesity. This doesn’t mean, however, that litigation is suddenly imminent. A hypothetical plaintiff would still need to prove that PFC ingestion caused them to gain weight, and that remains difficult to prove. This study may point scientists in the direction of being able to ascertain that link; in the meantime insurers can manage their exposure to these risks using Praedicat’s predictive models and scenarios.
“We typically think about [PFC]s in terms of rare health problems like cancer, but it appears they are also playing a role in obesity, a major health problem facing millions around the globe,” said study co-author Philippe Grandjean…