Ubiquitous Environmental Hormone Disrupter Linked to Broad Range of Diseases Interview with:

Jesse Goodrich PhDAssistant Professor Department of Population and Public Health Sciences Keck School of Medicine University of Southern California

Dr. Goodrich

Jesse Goodrich PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Population and Public Health Sciences
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California What is the background for this study?

Response: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of persistent chemicals that are known to interfere with hormones and metabolism. In our previous research, we have found that PFAS exposure is associated several specific diseases, especially in children and adolescents. These include obesity, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and even liver cancer. However, we are still only just starting to fully understand all of the health effects of the many different PFAS in existence. Previous studies have focused primarily on one or two main PFAS. However, there are over 9,000 known PFAS, and people are exposed not just to a single PFAS but to mixtures of many PFAS. Importantly, the combination of these chemical exposures may affect us differently than single exposures alone.

To address this challenge, we used an innovative approach to study design to examine how exposure to PFAS impacts biological processes which may underly the development of many different diseases in adolescents and young adults. To do this, we first measured thousands of naturally occurring chemicals, known as metabolites, in people’s blood. Then, using a new biostatistical method developed by our team, we identified how exposure to a mixture of several PFAS impacted each individual chemical. Finally, we used this information to determine which biological processes are changed by PFAS exposure. What are the main findings?

Response:  We found that exposure to PFAS disrupted a broad range of important biological processes. These include changes in lipid metabolism, amino acid metabolism, and thyroid hormone function. These are important findings because previous studies have found that alterations in these same biological processes are associated with increased risk of a broad range of diseases, including developmental disorders, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, and even many cancers. Further, we found that biological processes were altered due to exposure to the combined effect of multiple types of PFAS (PFAS mixtures) rather than exposure to a just a single PFAS. Where are PFAS chemical commonly found?

cooking-pans-pfasResponse:  PFAS are used in many products, including firefighting foams, non-stick pans, waterproof clothing, food packaging, and even cosmetic products like lipstick. Because they are used in many industrial processes, an estimated 200 million people have drinking water with PFAS levels higher than the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2022 safe drinking water health advisory levels. Almost all people in the US have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This study has important public health implications. Current public health interventions have focused primarily on two individual PFAS (PFOS and PFOA). However, we showed that no individual PFAS drove our findings. Therefore, while reducing exposure to individual PFAS remains an important public health goal, this study suggests that future efforts should focus on reducing exposure to more than just the two most common PFAS chemicals and adds additional evidence that PFAS should be regulated as a chemical class. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: In this study, we identified several biomarkers of PFAS exposure that we know are linked to different diseases. An important next step is to figure out how we can use this information to develop personalized treatments that can help prevent diseases before they develop. For example, we are working to develop models that can predict someone’s risk for different diseases using information about PFAS exposure and metabolite profiles. This information can be measured from a simple blood test, and could be used to identify people who would benefit most from targeted preventive treatments.

We do not have any disclosures.


Jesse A. Goodrich,Douglas I. Walker,Jingxuan He,Xiangping Lin,Brittney O. Baumert,Xin Hu,Tanya L. Alderete,Zhanghua Chen,Damaskini Valvi,Zoe C. Fuentes,Sarah Rock,Hongxu Wang,Kiros Berhane,Frank D. Gilliland,Michael I. Goran,Dean P. Jones,David V. Conti,and Leda Chatzi 2023

Metabolic Signatures of Youth Exposure to Mixtures of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: A Multi-Cohort Study

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Last Updated on February 23, 2023 by Marie Benz