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Environ Res. 2013 Feb;121:95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.11.006. Epub 2012 Dec 22.

Do perfluoroalkyl substances affect metabolic function and plasma lipids?--Analysis of the 2007-2009, Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) Cycle 1.

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Health Canada, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Environ Res. 2013 Oct;126:221.



Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are man-made chemicals that are heat stable, non-flammable and able to repel both water and oils. Biomonitoring research shows global distribution in human, animal and aquatic environments of these chemicals. PFCs have been shown to activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors which play a large role in metabolism and the regulation of energy homeostasis. Previous epidemiological research has also suggested a potential role of PFCs on lipid and glucose metabolism.


The objectives of this study were to examine the association between the levels of perfluorinated compounds perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) in plasma and metabolic function and plasma lipid levels.


Using cross-sectional data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (Cycle 1 2007-2009) we examined the association in adults between plasma levels of PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS (n=2700) on cholesterol outcomes, metabolic syndrome and glucose homeostasis using multivariate linear and logistic regression models.


We found some evidence of a significant association between perfluoroalkyl substances, notably PFHxS, with total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), total cholesterol/high density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio (TC/HDL) and non-HDL cholesterol as well as an elevated odds of high cholesterol. We found some associations with PFOA and PFOS in our unweighted models but these results did not remain significant after weighting for sampling strategy. We found no association with metabolic syndrome, or glucose homeostasis parameters.


This study showed lower levels of PFOA and PFOS and slightly higher levels of PFHxS than other published population studies. Our results did not give significant evidence to support the association with cholesterol outcomes with PFOS and PFOA. However, we did observe several significant associations with the PFHxS and cholesterol outcomes (LDL, TC, NON-HDL, TC/HDL ratio).

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