Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Link Between Cancer & Pesticides

By Cliff Walsh

Despite the fact that farmers, factory workers in pesticide plants, and those employees that apply these chemicals suffer from cancer at rates significantly more than other Americans, the U.S. government continues sit idly by while the agricultural industry dumps hundreds of millions of pounds of dangerous chemicals on our food each year, roughly three pounds per American. The government funds very little research and provides little oversight to the use of pesticides. It's even in our drinking water.

Pesticides are used to kill or deter insects, weeds, fungus, bacteria, and animals. It is not a stretch to believe that the same chemicals used to kill insects and plants on our food could kill our cells once we ingest those chemicals. Carcinogenic chemicals are known to damage and even alter our DNA, due to the creation of free radicals that can accelerate the spread of cancerous cells.

Unfortunately, our bodies are capable of storing these dangerous chemicals in our fat cells, and they often do. We can carry around pesticides in our bodies for years, because they are fat soluble. When I first began eating a cleaner diet of mainly organic fruits and vegetables, I experienced at least ten days of detoxification symptoms, mainly headaches.

Although the government doesn't appear to be making any effort to understand this causation, much research has been done privately. The evidence clearly shows a distinct link between cancer and insecticides and herbicides. A research project done in the U.S., which tested over 55,000 farm workers for skin cancer, showed that those who applied the most pesticides over their careers had the highest rates of cancer. Those is the top group were more than 2.5x as likely to get skin cancer than the bottom group.

The Ministry of Health in Argentina also recently released a report highlighting a massive dichotomy of cancer rates across its provinces, linking the higher rates to increased usage of chemical pesticides. In some areas, cancer rates were more than double that of the areas with lowest chemical usage. Argentina is a useful comparison for the U.S. because together both countries produce roughly 70% of all genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), which require heavy pesticide use.

Spend a few minutes looking over research on the internet and you can find well-respected doctors and university researchers connecting pesticides to a variety of different cancers.

I put little faith in the claims made by these chemical companies when they say their products don't harm us and that they are doing a public service by boosting food output. Without these pesticides, according to pesticide industry execs, we would all be starving right now. I find that hard to believe, particularly when remembering that a variety of previous industry products have been removed from the shelves because they were deemed carcinogenic, like DDT and PCBs.

I recommend that people avoid pesticides by eating organic produce. If that is a problem because of cost or availability, it is okay to buy non-organic fruits and vegetables that have thick skin or protective shells. Berries and thin-skinned fruits are the most at risk for pesticide contamination. A filter for your water intake is also recommended.

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