Association between fish oil supplements use and serum per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

By Manu Onteeru, Lauren E Barnes, Kelli O'Connell, Jenna Bhimani, Mengmeng Du, Megan E Romano, and Elizabeth D Kantor
Environ Res
August 29, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.114205


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widespread pollutants and classified as potentially carcinogenic to humans. Although consumption of fish, seafood, and their byproducts is a known source of dietary PFAS exposure, little is known about the association between use of fish oil supplements and PFAS. Here, we examine associations between fish oil supplement use and serum PFAS concentrations.


This analysis includes adults, ages 25 years of age and older, surveyed as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey (NHANES). Outcomes include five serum PFAS compounds: perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulphonic acid (PFHxS) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA). To determine the association between fish oil use and log-transformed PFAS concentrations, survey-weighted linear regression was used to estimate multivariate-adjusted ratios between supplement-users' and non-users' geometric mean serum PFAS concentrations.


No association was observed between fish oil use and PFAS. While results did not vary substantially by age, gender, study cycle, there was some indication of a potential inverse association in subgroups of interest. Specifically, an inverse association was observed between fish oil supplement use and PFOS levels in older adults, females, and in early calendar years; an inverse association was also observed between fish oil and PFNA in females and early calendar years.


While fish oil users did not experience increased serum PFAS, there was an unexpected inverse association in some population subgroups. Further research will be needed to better understand whether this pattern reflects true differences, chance, or bias.

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