Arthritis is on the rise, even among younger people. It contributes to chronic pain in the back, neck, and extremities. There are many factors that can increase your risk of arthritis: heredity, old injuries, and obesity are just a few. I recently wrote a blog about how the ingredients in soda can increase the risk of osteoarthritis, as well. The take home message from that post was to consume as few chemicals in found as possible, by eating more natural foods.
Well, it appears that just watching what chemicals are in our foods is not enough. A new study, done at Yale University, found that widely used chemicals (found in many objects around the home) were linked to an increased arthritis risk. The main compounds in question, PFCs, are synthetic chemicals found in things like take-out containers, carpeting, and non-stick cookware.
These substances are used to waterproof rain gear, protect textiles from stains, and grease-proof packaging. PFCs have also been linked in the past to the premature onset of menopause in women. While the biological connection is unclear at this point, the prevailing theory is that these chemicals affect the balance of hormones, especially in women. Since processes like inflammation and cartilage repair are impacted by hormones, any disruption to the endocrine system (the glands which secrete hormones) can have an impact on osteoarthritis.
Unfortunately, these compounds are in so many products that it is very difficult to avoid them. The goods news is that since there is a growing body of research showing that these compounds are hazardous, the use of PFCs will soon be trending downward. However, PFCs stay in the body for a long time, so the sooner you can avoid them, the better. While I wouldn't advise someone to rip out all their carpet and replace all their rainwear, it would make sense to make easier (and much less expensive) changes, like using cast iron cook wear.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is lessen the impact of these compounds by doing things to negate the other factors that increase osteoarthritis. Get exercise. Sleep more. Eat healthier. Get adjusted. Limit inflammation. Take action on the things you can control that will improve your overall health.