Firefighters with PFOS in their blood are 4.5 times more likely to develop liver cancer
Belonging to the PFAS category, perfluooctane sulfate – PFOS – is a highly toxic chemical that has a strong association with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most frequently diagnosed and fatal type of liver cancer. A very recent study from the medical journal JHEP Reports found that the blood samples of people with high PFOS levels were linked to metabolic changes in the liver. This suggests that the presence of PFOS in the body increases cancer risk by:
- disrupting fat metabolism
- driving fat accumulation in the liver
Earlier this year, the team, led by University of Southern California environmental health researcher Jesse Goodrich, established a connection between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a major risk factor for liver cancer, and PFAS exposure. It is estimated that by 2030, up to 30% of Americans will have it, which means a significant increase in the number of liver cancer patients. Researchers in this study identified certain metabolites linking PFOS exposure to liver cancer:
- α-ketoisovaleric acid
- butyric acid
The conclusion of the research was that exposure to high PFOS levels was associated with a significantly greater risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, which occurs most likely via alterations in amino acid, glucose, and bile acid metabolism. Still, larger studies are necessary to confirm these findings. "Experimental evidence supports the ability of these chemicals to have toxic effects on the liver and to disrupt metabolic processes, so there is biological rationale to explain the association. This study attempts to pave the way for filling a key gap in our understanding of the consequences of being exposed to these chemicals," said Dr. Jennifer Permuth, a cancer epidemiologist and researcher at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida.
The risk of liver cancer is 20% to 30% higher among military and civilian firefighters
Although military firefighters have a higher risk of liver cancer, line-of-duty civilian firefighters are also likely to develop it due to AFFF exposure. This fire suppressant, which has been used since 1967, contains a large amount of PFAS, a group of toxic chemicals, exposure to which can result in liver cancer, among other serious diseases.
Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer and a 14% greater risk of dying from a malignant disease than the general U.S. population. Their regular use of AFFF is a major contributor to these grim statistics. Even the protective equipment firefighters have to wear on the job contains PFAS to prevent burns due to extreme temperatures, which is another source of toxic exposure.
The most common symptoms of liver cancer include the following:
- upper abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal swelling
- yellowing of the skin
- unintentional weight loss
- weakness and fatigue
If you experience any of these symptoms and were or are a firefighter, please seek medical attention as soon as possible, as you may have liver cancer. To make sure you receive a correct and accurate diagnosis, it is best to visit multiple specialists, as the misdiagnosis rate is quite high among toxic exposure victims, including firefighters who use or have used AFFF.
Liver cancer often mimics numerous diseases and conditions with similar symptoms
Because liver cancer is often misdiagnosed, it is essential to make sure you have the right diagnosis by visiting more than one medical expert. The symptoms of this disease might not seem worrisome in the beginning, so many people overlook and ignore the early signs of liver cancer. Firefighters, whether military or civilian, must be extra cautious when it comes to their health, as cancer is the number one killer among this occupational group.
The following are some of the diseases and health conditions liver cancer resembles and can be misdiagnosed as:
- fatty liver disease
- alveolar hydatid disease
- hepatic hemangioma
- peptic ulcer
There are numerous ways you can be misdiagnosed if you suffer from liver cancer, such as:
- you visit your physician with concerns over symptoms, but they fail to properly examine you or to refer you for further investigations to a specialist
- your liver cancer is not identified or is wrongly diagnosed as something else
- a test with abnormal results is not correctly followed up, or your test results are misread or misinterpreted
When you have a liver cancer diagnosis, do not hesitate to get in touch with our attorneys, whose main practice area is toxic exposure. Over the past few years, we have provided quality legal assistance to hundreds of firefighters who developed cancer due to AFFF exposure, so you can rest assured you will benefit from top-notch services. Following a thorough review of your documents, we will determine with certainty whether you are entitled to financial compensation from the AFFF manufacturers whose products you used on the job.