You probably think suffering from arthritis is just an inevitable part of getting older. But it turns out, there’s a lot more to it. In fact, new evidence shows there may be a hidden cause of arthritis.

Researchers from the University of West Virginia made a shocking discovery this month that may help explain why you wake up each morning with pain and swelling in your hands – a hidden cause of arthritis.

And it’s got very little to do with your age. Instead, it may depend on how you cook your breakfast... where you sit and watch TV... what kind of snacks you eat... what kind of water you drink... and even what kind of shampoo you use!

One common culprit ties all these activities together. And to make matters worse, the U.S. government has known about this cause of arthritis for years, but for a different reason: it causes cancer and birth defects in lab animals.

The common chemical that could literally kill you

Of course, the trouble-maker I’m talking about is a man-made chemical called PFOA (also known as C8). I’ve warned you about it before. In 2006, a panel of experts presented evidence to the EPA that PFOA are “likely human carcinogens.” The government stopped short of adopting the new classification. Although, it does admit PFOA causes cancer in animals.

The government also concedes that high levels of PFOA in your blood increases your risk for high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and fertility problems.

The scary part is that PFOA can be found everywhere. Food manufacturers like to use it to line microwavable popcorn bags. You also find it in stain-resistant fabrics, food wrap, and carpeting. It’s also used to make non-stick cookware.

It has even made its way into your drinking water. Studies show that an incredible 95 percent of Americans have PFOA in their blood.

And this is where the University of West Virginia arthritis research comes into play.

About 10 years ago, the EPA discovered that the public drinking water in and around Washington, West Virginia became contaminated with PFOA.

You see, DuPont built a manufacturing plant in the town. Over many years, the plant released PFOA into the air. Eventually, the PFOA hit the town’s (and surrounding towns’) water supply. Eventually, the people started to connect the dots. They stopped drinking the water. DuPont had to provide bottled water to residents until they could get the public water cleaned up.

But this is a lot tougher than it sounds.

You see, PFOA is a “persistent” contaminant. This means, it lingers in the environment and your body. And it is very hard to remove. In fact, DuPont is still dealing with the mess.

Researchers make connection to arthritis

After the DuPont mess, scientists started to take blood samples of the West Virginia residents. They wanted to monitor the residents’ PFOA levels and their overall health. And 10 years later, a group of scientists from U of WV made the surprising connection – PFOA is also a hidden cause of arthritis.

In fact, they found that men and women with the highest PFOA levels in their blood are up to 40 percent more likely to develop arthritis than people with low PFOA.

Now, you may not live in Washington, West Virginia, but even low levels of PFOA in your blood  could be a potential cause of arthritis. Research suggests that PFOA disturbs your immune system and metabolism. It also appears to increase inflammation in the body. This is why — researchers believe — men and women with high PFOA seem more prone to arthritis.

Plus...

Recently, scientists think most of our PFOA exposure comes from flurotelomer alcohols. These alcohols break down into PFOA in the body. Plus, you probably handle them on a daily basis. They’re in many everyday items, such as your shampoo and household paper products.

What you can do right now

Even though PFOA is everywhere, there is still a lot you can do you protect you and your family from this toxin.

  1. Remove all non-stick cookware from your home. Cook with stainless steel instead.
  2. When you purchase carpet or furniture, do not apply stain-resistant treatments. These products contain PFOA or chemicals that break down into PFOA.
  3. Avoid buying stain-resistant and water-resistant clothing. Manufacturers may coat these products with chemicals that break down into PFOA.
  4. Minimize packaged foods and “fast food” in your diet. The food industry often wrap these items with paper coated with PFCs (PFOA belong to the PFC family of toxins).
  5. Avoid buying cosmetics or shampoo that contain “fluoro” or “perfluoro” on the ingredient list. These also contain PFCs.
  6. Install a high-quality filter on your water faucet.