People with late-onset ulcerative colitis were found to have increased PFAS levels in their blood
While the cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, the vast majority of people with this condition have problems with their immune systems. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease, which means it causes inflammation along the colon and rectum.
For this reason, most people with ulcerative colitis have to take medication to reduce the inflammation, as inflammation will eventually result in ulcers, which may require surgery.
The incidence of ulcerative colitis is on the rise – today, the disease is three times more common than Crohn's disease, the other main type of inflammatory bowel disease. In most people, ulcerative colitis is the consequence of a westernized environment and lifestyle. However, when it occurs in veterans, it is usually the result of toxic exposure, as the military bases they were stationed at were heavily contaminated. These are the main symptoms of ulcerative colitis you should look out for if you were exposed to toxic agents in the military:
- diarrhea, often with blood
- abdominal pain and cramping
- urgency to defecate
- rectal bleeding
- inability to defecate
- unintentional weight loss
A study from the Journal of Crohn's and Colitis found that PFAS levels were increased in patients with late-onset ulcerative colitis compared with Crohn's disease patients and healthy controls. The researchers collected serum samples from patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease at 55 years or older. No difference was found in the PFAS levels between Crohn's disease patients and healthy controls. Consequently, exposure to PFAS is a significant risk factor for ulcerative colitis. These chemicals were present on nearly all military bases and still are on some due to the excessive use of AFFF by military firefighters. The fire suppressant can contain up to 98% PFAS.
Finally, the researchers in a study from Environmental Research found higher serum PFOA in ulcerative colitis cases compared to Crohn's disease patients and controls, in contrast to other PFAS. Still, it is possible that PFOA was elevated in the participants with ulcerative colitis prior to their disease occurrence if PFOA is a risk factor for ulcerative colitis. More research is needed to find a definitive association between exposure to PFOA and ulcerative colitis. If you were stationed at a contaminated military base for at least one cumulative year and struggle with ulcerative colitis, you might be entitled to compensation.