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Can Teflon cause cancer?


Ask-the-Expert Online Conference

Question from Jeri: Can Teflon on pots cause cancer? What's the risk with microwave use?
Answers - Devra Davis Persistent fluorinated compounds have increased dramatically in harbor seals and other animals in San Francisco over the past decade. They have also increased in breast milk. The Swedish government banned the use of these compounds, such as those used in Teflon, and found a dramatic drop in residues in breast milk within a decade of doing so.

There have been some experimental studies indicating that these compounds disrupt the immune system and could contribute to cancer. Because these compounds are so persistent in the environment, the manufacturers reported some of the evidence on their persistence to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) about four years ago. There's a lot of debate about whether or not they could be contributing to a wide range of health problems.

Right now, the Teflon-related compounds are everywhere. They are used to treat draperies and fabrics. A lot of people are working hard on to find less-toxic substitutes. As for the pots, high heat and burning the Teflon should be avoided at all costs. I just don't know if routine use is a problem.


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