PFAS Forever Chemicals Promote Prostate Cancer, say scientists

The results of a new scientific study suggest that consuming a high-fat diet in combination with exposure to PFAS chemicals triggers changes in benign and malignant prostate cells that promote rapid tumor growth.*  More specifically, the results of a new animal study indicate that exposure to PFAS – a class of synthetic chemicals utilized in food wrappers, nonstick cookware and a wide range of cosmetics, personal care and household products – reprograms the metabolism of benign and malignant human prostate cells to a more energy efficient state that enables the cells to proliferate at three times the rate of non-exposed cells. Even more troubling, the study found that consuming a high-fat diet significantly accelerated development of tumors in the PFAS-exposed test subjects.

*The current study’s findings are believed to be the first to shed light on the synergistic interactions of PFAS and dietary fat and the metabolic changes that shift benign prostate cells to a malignant state, triggering rapidly growing tumors.

“Our data suggest that exposure to PFAS synergizes with dietary fat to activate the protein-coding gene PPARa, altering cells’ metabolism in ways that escalate the carcinogenic risk in normal prostate cells while driving tumor progression in malignant cells.”

-Dr. Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, principal investigator on the study


“These alterations in cell metabolism that occur downstream of PPARa** activation may underpin the increased prostate cancer risk observed in men who are exposed to PFAS.”

-Dr. Madak-Erdogan, researcher and health innovation professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine

**PPARa controls cell proliferation and differentiation, aids in immune and inflammatory responses and has been found to play a key role in the development of liver and kidney cancers.

Study overview

Scientists injected an aggressive form of malignant human prostate cells into the flanks of male mice that were fed either a high-fat diet intended to mimic the typical Western diet or a control diet. Some of the mice also received oral doses of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), one of the most common forms of PFAS that has been associated with various cancers.

In cell culture, the scientists exposed benign prostate cells and a derivative line of aggressive malignant cells to PFOS and found that the malignant cells replicated at triple the rate of the cells in the control group.

When the researchers exposed the benign and malignant cells to another form of PFAS, perfluorobutane sulfonic acid, the malignant cells’ viability was five times greater than the cells in the control group.


“We observed an increase in the tumors’ volume when exposed to either the high-fat diet or the PFOS.  However, at 40 days post-injection, we observed that the fastest tumor growth occurred in the group of mice that both ate the high-fat diet and received PFOS exposure, which suggested a synergistic interaction between the two.”

-Dr. Michael J. Spinella, scientist in the Cancer Center at Illinois and professor of comparative biosciences

medical equipment on an operation room

To learn about the wide-range of serious health conditions linked in scientific studies to PFAS chemicals–as well as all the places these toxic chemicals are hiding–go to our BLOG, scroll down to the bottom of the page until you reach the Search Box,, and enter “PFAS” into the search box.


Journal Reference:  Berk, O., et al. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Exposure Combined with High-Fat Diet Supports Prostate Cancer Progression, MPDI, Nutrients 2021, 13(11), 3902;