Background: Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are persistent, synthetic industrial chemicals. Perfluorinated compounds are linked to health impacts that may be relevant to osteoarthritis, cartilage repair, and inflammatory responses.
Objectives: We investigated whether PFOA and PFOS exposures are associated with prevalence of osteoarthritis, and whether associations differ between men and women.
Methods: We used multiple logistic regression to estimate associations between serum PFOA and PFOS concentrations and self-reported diagnosis of osteoarthritis in persons 20–84 years of age who participated in NHANES during 2003–2008. We adjusted for potential confounders including age, income, and race/ethnicity. Effects by sex were estimated using stratified models and interaction terms.
Results: Those in the highest exposure quartile had higher odds of osteoarthritis compared with those in the lowest quartile [odds ratio (OR) for PFOA = 1.55; 95% CI: 0.99, 2.43; OR for PFOS = 1.77; 95% CI: 1.05, 2.96]. When stratifying by sex, we found positive associations for women, but not men. Women in the highest quartiles of PFOA and PFOS exposure had higher odds of osteoarthritis compared with those in the lowest quartiles (OR for PFOA = 1.98; 95% CI: 1.24, 3.19 and OR for PFOS = 1.73; 95% CI: 0.97, 3.10).
Conclusions: Higher concentrations of serum PFOA were associated with osteoarthritis in women, but not men. PFOS was also associated with osteoarthritis in women only, though effect estimates for women were not significant. More research is needed to clarify potential differences in susceptibility between women and men with regard to possible effects of these and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.