Arthritis is a debilitating, mostly genetic, degenerating disease that affects more people than you might think. According to various studies, women are more susceptible to arthritis than men. And now, a recent study shows that women have one more danger to worry about: PFC chemicals. PFC chemicals are found in things like non-stick cookware and carpets, and they place women at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis (HealthDay News).
The good news is that researchers have yet to prove a causal effect. The bad news is that there is definitely a ‘robust link’ between PFC chemicals and osteoarthritis in women.
More bad news
Interestingly, the study, which was conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, showed that prolonged exposure does not necessarily increase the risk. The link between the chemicals and osteoarthritis appears to be stronger among women between 20 and 49 years old.
The research team is hedging its bets by saying that more research needs to be done to determine why this seems to be so, but a possible reason is that PFCs seem to affect women’s hormone systems; younger women’s hormone systems are somewhat different to women who are over 50 years old.
Another reason is that things like non-stick cookware, carpet stain protection, grease-proof takeaway contains and even waterproof rain gear are more common now than they were previously. So, older generations had less exposure to PFCs.
Even if all PFC containing products were pulled from the shelves immediately, it wouldn’t do much good because, according to Sarah Uhl, lead author of the study, once the chemicals are in the body, they linger for a long time.
What are women to do?
Standard recommendations for most conditions apply: eat well, exercise regularly and try to minimize stress.
A healthy diet not only provides your body with the proper nutrients it needs to function optimally, but it also keeps down your weight. This is important for people who are at risk of arthritis or who already have arthritis because extra weight puts extra stress on the joints, which worsens the pain and speeds up degeneration.
There are certain foods you should incorporate in your diet, and certain foods that you should try avoid. Omega 3 fatty acids combat joint inflammation. You’ll find them in oily fish and flaxseed oil. Fresh fruit and veg are essential. Try to avoid red meat, processed meat, bread and beer, and sugary and fatty foods.
Exercise keeps joints flexible. Gentle exercise like yoga and tai chi are excellent for joint flexibility and they help manage mental and emotional stress – that’s two birds with one stone.
Arthritis is not preventable and it’s almost impossible to avoid certain environmental risks, but it can be managed. If you think you’re at risk or you might have arthritis, consult your doctor and devise a healthy lifestyle plan that will ensure you have as much comfort as possible for as long as possible.
Sandy Cosser writes for Skilled Migrant Jobs, a job board that helps skilled professionals, such as doctors and medical specialists find jobs in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.