Since its invention 80 years ago, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) has been the best friend of moms, wives and chefs worldwide. All of us know this tongue-twisting compound by its more famous brand name, Teflon. PTFE is a kind of perfluorinated compound (PFC).

Teflon, however, has its drawbacks and one of the most unusual and probably the most stunning is that PFCs in nonstick pans might shrink the size of male penises and also worsen semen quality.

PTFE began its journey to human acceptance with a pretty good reputation. Besides allowing food to cook fast and slide off easily from frying or sauce pans, PTFE has found widespread use as an effective fire-fighting foam against aircraft fires. It’s also used to make fabrics water- and stain-resistant.

But for every upside, there is a downside. For PTFE, the downside, and a major one at that, is the compounds used in making it can cause cancer. Some of these compounds are also potent greenhouse gases that worsen global warming.

In particular, the fluorocarbons called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) were both been investigated by the European Union and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regard them harmful to humans and the environment.

Production of PFOA in the U.S. has ceased, which is a welcome relief because this compound might cause several types of cancers and neonatal death. It may have toxic effects on the immune, liver and endocrine systems, according to researchers.

Most manufacturers of nonstick pans have phased out the use of PFOA, which is a suspected carcinogen. But, it’s wise to know that data on the human health effects of PFOA remain limited.

But for humans, a big worry about Teflon is whether this compound is harmful if we swallow it with our food. Teflon flaking has long been a concern. Over time, the Teflon surface becomes scratched. The Teflon flakes then stick to the food we cook and eat.

The tolerable news is PTFE bioaccumulate, meaning that since it is extremely stable, it can be stored in the bodies of humans and animals without harm. And being hydrophobic (they repel water), it’s easy for these flakes to be deposited in human stool and excreted.

Teflon flakes aren’t the biggest health danger, however. Studies show that overheating Teflon-coated pans is an even greater danger. When the pans get too hot, compounds in the coating are released as fumes. These fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and can actually kill birds.

PTFE starts to dissociate at about 300 degrees Celsius or about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, releasing toxic fumes into the air.

To these worries must be added one problem affecting male penis sizes and fertility. A study said to have been conducted in Italy claims to have found that men exposed to PFCs had significantly smaller penis lengths than those who hadn’t.

In numbers, that’s an average length of 3.94 inches for men that hadn’t been exposed to PFCs compared to an average of 3.44 inches in those who had. Exposed men were also one-fifth of an inch less girthy.

The study, which is said to have been published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, says adult males are more likely to accumulate PFCs in their body for an unknown reason. This means PFCs might have a larger effect on men than any another population.

Researchers examined 383 male high school students, including 212 who had been exposed to PFCs, in northeast Italy, through June 2017 and May. They took the participants’ blood to measure sexual hormones and examined semen samples.

Researchers also took several measurements on the participants’ penises, including length, circumference, testicular volume and anogenital distance or the Ken Doll region.

Study authors claim their findings will have a “substantial impact on human male health,” one which could even lead to issues with male fertility.