High cholesterol levels in kids have been big news lately. And never one to miss an opportunity pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has acted like a busy little bee making honey…uh, I mean money…while the sun is shining.
You almost have to admire their industriousness. That is, of course, until you remember how much damage the poison they are pushing can do.
In July, after the European Union gave its thumbs-up, Pfizer announced plans to market a chewable “kid-friendly” version of its bestselling cholesterol drug, Lipitor, to kids in Europe. Yes, if Pfizer has its way, along with his cornflakes and Flintstones vitamin your child could soon be munching on a berry-flavored heavy-duty statin every morning.
But a new study, published in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, could put a slight crimp in Pfizer’s latest moneymaking scheme. Well, that’s if enough parents and grandparents hear about the findings.
It turns out that the slippery coating in nonstick pans, commonly known as Teflon, might be sending our children’s cholesterol levels climbing. Researchers found that kids with higher levels of certain chemicals in their bloodstreams also had higher total-cholesterol and LDL (bad)-cholesterol levels.
The scientists were able to narrow the offending chemicals down to two main culprits: fluorine-based perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). And, yes, you guessed it, PFOA and PFOS are two of the essential materials in nonstick cookware. Kids with the highest levels of PFOA had total-cholesterol levels 4.6 points higher and LDL-cholesterol levels 3.8 points higher than did the kids with the lowest PFOA levels.
Now the spin doctors are, of course, out in full force on this one. (Why am I not surprised?) They were quick to point out that there’s no definitive proof yet that the chemicals caused the cholesterol levels to rise.
But what the spin guys fail to mention is that these latest findings on elevated cholesterol levels are far from the first negative effects that these chemicals have been linked to. In fact, they are suspected cancer causers (even the Environmental Protection Agency deemed them a “likely carcinogen”) and have also been implicated in birth defects and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
And you want to know the really scary part? According to the Environmental Protection Agency these chemicals bind to proteins in the liver and blood and can be found in the bodies of over 90 percent of Americans.
The problem is that normal everyday use can cause the Teflon to separate from the cooking surfaces it’s coating. And then, of course it ends up IN you and your family. Try this: Pull out all your nonstick cookware and give it an eyeball test. Do you see any scratches, nicks, or dings on the inside of the pot or pan? These are all potential escape points for these dangerous chemicals.
The safest route is to chuck the Teflon-coated pans and opt instead for old-fashioned cast-iron or ceramic cookware. Cast-iron pans will take some extra work on your part to maintain, but they’re known for their even cooking and best of all any small amounts of “escaped” iron is actually good for you. Ceramic cookware, the other good option, is low- maintenance, dishwasher-safe, and even somewhat nonstick.
I think you’ll agree that the quest for a perfect omelet is NOT worth risking the health of our children.