Scientists are concerned that exposure to industrial chemical compounds is a contributing factor to the growing number of patients they're seeing who require liver transplants later in life. They expect to see non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to become the leading reason for liver transplants in the next decade.

With new findings, scientists have discovered that exposure to PFAS chemicals (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is linked to an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. PFAS chemicals break down especially slowly in one's body, and can be found in many products; they're particularly used in waterproof, stain-resistant and grease-resistant products. Non-stick cookware is notorious for containing PFAS chemicals.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects a quarter of the world's population and is the cause of new liver requirements for millions of elderly Americans.

Other risk factors of course increase one's risk of liver disease--alcohol, high blood pressure and obesity are other factors. Still, the pervasive presence of PFAS chemical exposure to pretty much everyone who drinks water or breathes air has now been linked. High levels of PFAS exposure have also been related to cancer, developmental delays in children and weak immune function.

Scientists have suspected that there's been a connection between liver damage and PFAS exposure, but the large-scale review now proves a link. Costello's colleagues at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine compiled more than 100 studies that looked at and evaluated PFAS exposure and liver damage in both rodent and human populations. They found clear evidence that showed exposure to three well-known PFAS chemicals (PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA) was connected to higher levels of an enzyme that indicates liver damage.
There's not enough evidence to show a connection between newer PFAS chemicals created to replace PFAS chemicals that have been banned or blacklisted, but the scientists believe that the newer PFAS chemicals will behave similarly since they are similar in structure.

The study authors said that PFAS chemicals are similar to fatty acids structurally, and so exposure to PFAS mimics the effects as if one consumed a high-fat diet.

Humans are exposed to hundreds, maybe thousands of chemicals daily and they affect our health. Costello says that they'll continue to follow people exposed to PFAS and different combinations of chemicals over the years for more information and evaluation.
For more information on how to look for and avoid PFAS exposure, check out EWG's guide.