Weedkiller warning: People exposed to common pesticide have signs of CANCER in their urine, government-funded study suggests
- Scientists from the NIH and CDC analyzed the urine of farmers and non-farmers
- Pesticide in urine was linked to elevated levels of oxidative stress biomarkers
- Oxidative stress damages DNA and is thought to be a key feature of carcinogens
People who use weedkiller have signs of cancer in their urine, a study suggests.
The government-funded research took samples from farmers in Iowa and North Carolina found high levels of biomarkers linked to the development of the disease.
It comes after a separate study found ‘screamingly high levels’ of extremely hard-to-breakdown toxic chemicals present in the majority of pesticides used in the US, which can cause birth defects and kidney disease if ingested.
As well as farmers working with the pesticide, people may be exposed to the weedkiller by eating contaminated food or drinking water
The latest research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, measured the glyphosate levels – the most heavily applied herbicide in the world – used in the urine of 268 male farmers and 100 other men matched for age and geography.
They found that compared to the non-farmers, the farmers with recent, high past 12-month, or high lifetime glyphosate use had elevated levels of oxidative stress biomarkers in their urine.
Oxidative stress damages DNA and is thought to be a key feature of carcinogens – substances capable of causing cancer.
The authors, including 10 National Institutes of Health scientists and two from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it ‘contribute[s] to the weight of evidence supporting an association between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress in humans’.
Oxidative stress could cause certain cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia.
People may be exposed to the weedkiller by eating contaminated food or drinking water.
Although the study focused on farmers who work with glyphosate, the scientists observed similar results in ‘non-farmers’.
Phil Landrigan, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who previously worked at the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency, told The Guardian the study should be looked at by regulators.
He said: ‘This is a top-level team of investigators and a highly credible study to which regulators need to pay attention.’
The most common glyphosate product is Roundup weedkiller, made by Monsanto.
Bayer, the owner of the chemical’s manufacturing company, has long-maintained that exposure to the weedkiller has no negative impacts on human health.
It said in a statement: ‘The increased oxidative stress found in the study could have been caused by any number of non-glyphosate-related factors or a combination of them, and the study does not support the conclusion that glyphosate is the cause.’
Meanwhile, Bayer and Monsanto are facing legal trials from tens of thousands of patients with cancer who allege their exposure to Roundup caused their cancer.
The new government-funded study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.