by Sharon Lerner
August 12 2019, 9:45 a.m.
In partnership with
Defenders of the chemicals known as PFAS have seized upon an industry-funded study of cancer patients as evidence that PFOA, the compound used to make Teflon, firefighting foam, and many other products, isn’t as dangerous as it seems.
The study, which was funded by the Minnesota-based global conglomerate 3M and published in February 2018 in the journal Toxicological Sciences, was based on a clinical trial conducted by the company CXR Biosciences, in which 49 terminal cancer patients were exposed to high doses of PFOA. Now recognized as a widespread water contaminant, PFOA was originally developed by 3M.
The authors of the study, who include a 3M staff scientist and two University of Minnesota faculty members who received research grants from the company, as well as two of the authors of a 2010 abstract summarizing the original clinical trial, initially describe its purpose as assessing the chemotherapeutic potential of PFOA. Yet the paper contains little mention of how the chemical affected patients’ cancers and instead focuses on their cholesterol levels, which appeared to decrease slightly over a six-week trial period. (Since the study’s publication, one of its authors, Matteo Convertino, left the institution.)