If you use the most popular kind of cookware, you are exposing yourself to a dangerous bone-damaging chemical.
When “non-stick cookware” came out in the 1960s, it was all the rage. Created by the bonding of aluminum and polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, this slick cooking surface was touted as the best innovation to come along for home cooks.
PTFE was trademarked as Teflon in 1945, and was used in the creation of the French product Tefal (known as T-fal in the US). In 1960, the FDA approved its use in American cookware.
Today, non-stick pots and pans are standard kitchen equipment. Health-conscious people have been especially attracted to this kind of cookware, because very little oil or fat is needed to keep food from sticking. But the sad irony is that the non-stick coating is anything but healthy; it can damage your health and your bones.
Fluoride: the Hidden Toxin in Your Kitchen
When you look at the chemical formula for common non-stick coating, you’ll notice that fluoride is lurking among the chemical terminology: polytetrafluoroethylene C2F4, or polytetrafluoroethene F2CCF2.
“Savers” already know that fluoride is used in pesticides and fertilizers and that its harmful effect on bones has been well-documented. Throughout the 80s and 90s, researchers confirmed over and over that fluoride accumulates in the bones and causes harm. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed these studies in 1993, it concluded that fluoride ingestion specifically increases the risk of hip fracture.
When heated, Teflon emits numerous toxic gases, some of which (like perfluoroisobutane) are actually used in chemical warfare. And studies have shown that the non-stick coating does not have to be heated to excessively high temperatures to start giving off these fumes – Teflon has been shown to begin degradation at temperatures below 400 degrees F.2
In the not-so-distant past, canaries were used in coal mines to test the air quality. People have known for a long time that if a bird can’t breathe, it indicates an unsafe environment for humans as well. Perhaps we should take the same wisdom and apply it to our kitchens!
It’s Not Just Teflon…
There are additional hazards lurking in various other kinds of cookware, too.
Ceramic Cookware and Lead Poisoning
Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University discovered an alarming fact: ceramic cookware imported from China has dangerous levels of lead in the glaze. When foods are cooked in these ceramic vessels, lead leaches into the food at frighteningly high levels. In fact, the researchers found high levels of lead just from swabbing a lead-detecting solution on the glaze itself.3 Ceramic cookware imported from Mexico is also suspect.
Another popular and relatively high-end type of cookware is made of copper. But this, too, has been shown to be problematic.
Copper is No Longer the “Cadillac” of Cookware
Professional chefs and gourmets have long touted the use of copper for cooking, because it conducts heat evenly. But when you use pots and pans made of copper (not the kind with a copper coating on the bottom), the copper comes in contact with your food. The metal can then leach out in high amounts, causing significant digestive upset and a host of other health problems.
There’s yet another kind of cookware material that “Savers” will be familiar with: aluminum.
Aluminum Cookware Harms Bones
When you cook in aluminum pots and pans, the aluminum contaminates your food. And the higher the temperature, the higher the aluminum levels, especially when you cook high-acid foods like tomatoes.
Aluminum weakens bones. When it accumulates in the body, it wreaks havoc on bone remodeling and building. Aluminum actually impairs your body’s ability to absorb calcium into your bones, resulting in high blood calcium levels.