Exposure to PFOS, increasing the risk of liver cancer in veterans

Treven Pyles

By Treven Pyles

Posted on July 19th, 2023

As a synthetic chemical used to manufacture products resistant to stains, grease, and water, PFOS is highly toxic and possibly carcinogenic. Exposure can result in liver cancer, among many other health issues. The chemical is lurking in the environment of nearly all military bases nationwide, endangering the health of service members.

Since the 1940s, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid - PFOS - was used in numerous consumer and industrial products, such as carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, non-stick cookware, and leather products. It has also been present in some firefighting foams used at firefighter training facilities and military airfields. In fact, the fire suppressant AFFF, which sometimes contains 98% PFOS, is the culprit behind toxic water contamination at nearly all military bases nationwide.

The chemical is on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause birth defects and other reproductive harm. Exposure to PFOS during pregnancy may affect the development of the child. Furthermore, the chemical is also on the Proposition 65 list because it can lead to the development of cancer. While the principal manufacturer of PFOS phased out its production of the chemical in the early 2000s, the substance is still lurking in the environment of military bases, as it is a persistent contaminant.

Veterans and family members with a high PFOS blood level are 4.5 times more likely to develop liver cancer

A recent study from JHEP Reports discovered that PFOS exposure might cause hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. The researchers also found evidence that PFOS disrupts metabolic processes in the liver, causing fat to accumulate in the organ. Fatty liver disease can increase the risk of liver cancer by up to 91%. Moreover, they identified several metabolites linking PFOS exposure with liver cancer, some of which are glucose and butyric acid.

Each of these metabolites was positively associated with PFOS exposure and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. This proof-of-concept analysis reveals that exposure to high PFOS levels was associated with a high risk of non-viral hepatocellular carcinoma via alterations in glucose, amino acid, and bile acid metabolism. Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.

If you spent time at a military base with known PFOS contamination and suspect you have liver cancer, these are the symptoms you should look out for:

  • upper abdominal pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • weakness and fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal swelling
  • yellow discoloration of the skin
  • white, chalky stools
  • unexplained weight loss

Exposure to PFOS may imply a higher risk of chronic liver disease. Higher serum PFOS was associated with a higher fatty liver disease risk and worse liver function. This was particularly evident in people with liver disease risk factors, such as heavy alcohol intake, obesity, and a high-fat diet. PFOS exposure is associated with increased liver enzymes in cohort studies. In animal models, the chemical disrupts hepatic lipid metabolism and induces apoptosis to cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

In addition to liver cancer, high PFOS levels in a person's body were associated with elevated cholesterol, changes to liver function, changes in thyroid hormone levels, and reduced immune response. Furthermore, PFOS exposure can have harmful effects on a developing fetus or infant, as well as harmful effects on the immune system and thyroid gland. It is worth noting that veterans and family members who lived at contaminated military bases and have liver cancer might be entitled to financial compensation.

Quality legal assistance for veterans and family members injured by toxic exposure at military bases

Since 1990, our law firm has been dedicated to pursuing compensation for toxic exposure victims. If you spent time at a military base with known PFOS contamination and now struggle with a disease, we strongly encourage you to contact our resourceful attorneys. The only documents we will need from you for a free case evaluation as a veteran are your military records, which you must retrieve, and your medical records.

Family members who are seeking legal recourse will have to provide our team with evidence of their stay at the military base along with their medical records. After a thorough and careful assessment, we will let you know whether you qualify to file a military base toxic exposure claim. Eventually, if our endeavors are fruitful, you might obtain the money you deserve for your suffering.