Teflon has not been found to cause cancer. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in the synthesis of Teflon, has been labeled a "likely carcinogen" by apaneladvising the Environmental Protection Agency. But Teflon pans do not emit PFOA when used properly.

Teflon cookware might emit a small amount of PFOA when heated to extreme temperatures—for example, when a frying pan has been left empty on a heated burner for an extended period. Even then, it has not been established that overheated Teflon produces a dangerous amount of PFOA. Still, it wouldn't be unreasonable to dispose of a Teflon pan that has been left empty on a heated burner.

Approximately 95% of the population has some amount of PFOA in their bloodstream—but most of this PFOA likely comes from stain- and water-repelling treatments used on carpets and fabrics. Grease-resistant food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags and cardboard fast-food boxes, also might contain small amounts of PFOA.

The fact that PFOA is in our bodies does not mean that we're all going to die from PFOA-related cancers. Individuals who have worked in factories where PFOA is produced, and perhaps some people who live in neighboring areas, seem to have the highest levels of PFOA.

Chemotherapy and Hot Flashes

When breast cancer patients experiencing chemotherapy-induced hot flashes took 900 mg daily of the anticonvulsant gabapentin (Neurontin), they reported a 46% reduction in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes.

Theory: Gabapentin may work directly in the central nervous system, where body temperature is regulated. Gabapentin appears to be as effective as hormone therapy, which is used to treat hot flashes in menopausal women, but without the potentially harmful side effects.

Self-defense: Chemotherapy patients who experience hot flashes should ask their doctors if gabapentin is appropriate for them.

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