Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been the subject of increasing concern due to their pervasive presence in the environment and health risks. Recent studies have shed light on a troubling association between PFAS exposure and an elevated risk of thyroid cancer. Evidence from three significant studies conducted by Messmer (2022), Van Gerwyn (2023), and Alsen (2023) provides a comprehensive understanding of the link between PFAS exposure and thyroid cancer.

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Messmer (2022):

Messmer’s ecological study focused on Merrimack, NH, where residents were exposed to contaminated drinking water. The study compared 25,494 residents of Merrimack to three unexposed, demographically similar towns in New England and one similarly exposed town. The findings revealed a significantly higher risk of thyroid cancer, with a relative risk (RR) of 1.47 when compared to similarly sized New England communities with lower contamination levels. This underscores the potential health impact of PFAS exposure, especially in areas with contaminated water sources.

Van Gerwyn (2023):

Van Gerwyn’s investigation delved into the association between plasma PFAS levels and thyroid cancer. The nested case-control study included 88 thyroid cancer patients with plasma samples collected either at or before cancer diagnosis, along with 88 non-cancer controls. The study found a 56% increase in the rate of thyroid cancer diagnosis per doubling of n-PFOS (linear PFOS) intensity. The 95% confidence interval for this association was 1.17-2.15, and the p-value, a statistical measurement confirming the significance of the findings, was 0.004. These results strengthen the argument for a direct link between PFAS exposure and thyroid cancer.

Alsen (2023):

Alsen’s study examined the correlation between PFAS concentration levels in communities and thyroid cancer rates. The research found a significant correlation between PFNA and PFOA levels in community water systems (CWSs) and age-adjusted thyroid cancer incidence in US counties. The study concluded that elevated PFAS levels were predominantly detected in Northeastern states with high thyroid cancer rates. This geographical correlation further supports the notion that PFAS exposure might be a contributing factor to the increased incidence of thyroid cancer.


The evidence from Messmer (2022), Van Gerwyn (2023), and Alsen (2023) collectively suggests a concerning association between PFAS exposure and thyroid cancer. These studies highlight the urgency of further research, policy measures, and environmental regulations to mitigate PFAS exposure and safeguard public health. As we continue to uncover the intricate relationship between environmental factors and health outcomes, addressing the impact of PFAS on thyroid health remains a critical priority.

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