Add non-stick frying pans to the list of items to ditch in 2021. On Monday we reported that the bro-science meme about toxic receipts really is true: thermal paper contains measurable levels of the endocrine-disruptor BPA, which plays havoc with your hormone levels and can lead, among other things, to overeating and weight gain.

It’s much the same story with non-stick frying pans, due to the chemicals used to make the special non-stick coating. Let’s look at the evidence in more detail.

Non-stick coatings: the science

Non-stick frying pan

As part of an ongoing series, in advance of our new book Reclaim Your Masculinity, we have been examining what testosterone (T) is and does, why T levels are falling across the developed world and what you can do – the foods you should avoid and the foods you should eat – to begin to restore your proper hormonal balance and with it your precious masculinity. 

Let there be no doubt: the modern world is waging a war against masculinity, both at the social and the molecular level. Putting the social level to one side, at the molecular level today’s man is caught in a ruthless two-pronged assault from natural estrogenic foods and industrially produced estrogenic chemicals. 

Men today have considerably less T than men of the same age even a single generation ago. 

A 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed a significant reduction in the T levels of men since the 1980s. A 60-year-old American man in 2004, for example, had 17% less testosterone than a 60-year-old American man in 1987.

These findings were corroborated in a study of Danish men, who displayed a two-digit decline between the 1920s and the 1960s.

Apart from taking a blood test to establish whether you have low T, there are various symptoms you’ll experience if you have low T.

The main symptoms include:

  • Reduced libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fertility problems (inability to conceive)
  • Fatigue

Boys with low T may develop slower, with little or no body hair, under-developed muscles and smaller penises; and men with low T will have difficulty building muscle, no matter how hard they try.

In extreme cases of low T, usually referred to as hypogonadism, men may also develop breast tissue (gynecomastia) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).

Hypogonadism has a variety of causes, which include:

  • Certain genetic disorders
  • HIV
  • Pituitary disorders, including pituitary tumours and injuries
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Obesity and also rapid weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Steroid use

Obesity, in particular, is an increasingly common cause of hypogonadism. 


Soy milk made a man grow breasts, lose his libido and develop erectile dysfunction! Click here to read out article on this shocking medical case study.

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Xenoestrogens such as BPA and pthalates are a diverse class of industrial compounds that mimic the effects of the natural hormone estrogen in human and animal bodies.

So where do non-stick frying pans fit in? Basically, the chemicals you want to avoid are in the coating, and the problem is that they don’t stay there.

A 2010 study on sheep and cells grown in the laboratory by Norwegian vets found that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are found not only in non-stick frying pans but also in water-resistant clothing, affect the body’s steroid hormones including oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol.

The research also discovered similar effects caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a group of chemicals that have been banned since the 1970s but continue to persist in the environment.

At the time, the research led to calls to ban these compounds, but manufacturers, such as DuPont, disputed the findings, while making vague assurances that they would phase them out over time.

Earlier research had indicated that non-stick frying pans released a cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals into the environment, including

As a press release for Science Daily from 2001 notes,

“They [non-stick pans] produce, among other chemicals, trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), a persistent compound whose long-term effects on the environment are unknown, trace amounts of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and longer-chain perfluorocarboxylates, which accumulate in animal tissues.

Although the focus has been on the potentially harmful effects of teflon non-stick cookware, the bad news is that others non-teflon cookware marketed as non-stick appears to produce harmful chemicals too.

A study from 2017 showed that quasi-ceramic pans release “titanium dioxide nanoparticles into foods”, which are associated with “immune disruption and pre-cancer lesions in the gut”. Bad news.

Our recommendation? Invest in some good old-fashioned cast-iron, copper or traditional ceramic cookware.

Part of the reason people think they need non-stick cookware is because they don’t actually know how to cook, and have the pan up too high. If you’re interested in learning how to cook, your first stop should be our very own Rachel Traylor’s series of recipes and cooking tips. Start here.