Fast Food or Fast Track to Cancer

There have been many studies proving that fast food itself is harmful to your health, but how many consider the containers and wrappers your food is stored in? It has been proved that the high amounts of salt, sugar, and saturated fat associated with fast food can be catastrophic to your health by multiple studies and even documentaries such as "Super Size Me". However, the shiny wrapper your food is stored in can be harmful too.

 Many fast food companies use wrappers that are coated with grease resistant compounds such as perflourinated chemicals, or PFCs. PFCs are nonstick, water resistant chemicals that have been used since the 1950s. These chemicals can get into your food from its wrapper when the hot fatty oils heat the paper.

 For a long time the harmful effects of PFCs have been known, but Fast Food companies still continue to use them. This chemical is similar to Teflon, which was taken off the market because it became a well known harmful carcinogen. With the help of many scientists and volunteers, samples of fast food wrappers were taken to test for chemicals. Of these samples, 40% contained PFCs. While PFOA, a type of PFC was banned, many new types of PFCs are still used.

The FDA has allowed these chemicals to be used to coat cardboard and wrappers but these chemicals have not been adequately tested to find the true effects on our health. Even worse, PFCs have been found in virtually all of humans blood and can pass from mother to child in breast milk. PFCs are so dangerous because some types have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol.

Although it is hard to know which companies use PFCs in their wrappers, you can use EWG's data in the link below for further resources. You can also reduce your exposure by avoiding paper tableware and microwave popcorn. Another way to reduce your exposure is by preparing your meals at home and eating fresh foods. The extra fifteen minutes spent making something fresh can have a very positive impact on your health in the short and long term.

By Sara Frawley

melanie gabrell