Pesticides Causing Cancer
Pesticides are widely used in agriculture and there are concerns that they could increase the risk of cancer. Some studies have suggested that pesticides could increase the risk of leukaemia, lymphoma, brain tumours, breast cancer and prostate cancer. But for now, researchers are afraid to say that the evidence is not strong enough to show a definite link, possibly because of pressures ‘from above’.
Obviously, due to the consequences, human studies are difficult to obtain so we must rely on animal research. However, it needn’t take more than a childlike understanding to draw the corelations.
Agricultural workers and farmers
People exposed to higher levels of pesticides as part of their job – for example in industry or in farming – may be at higher risk of certain cancers, particularly leukaemias and lymphomas.
The International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC) have looked at the evidence and said that regularly spraying pesticides as part of your job “probably” increases the risk of cancer. But for most individual pesticides, the evidence was either too weak to come to a conclusion, or only strong enough to suggest a “possible” effect.
However, in animal studies, many pesticides are proven carcinogenic, (e.g., organochlorines, creosote, and sulfallate) while others (notably, the organochlorines DDT, chlordane, and lindane) are tumor promoters. Some contaminants in commercial pesticide formulations also may pose a carcinogenic risk. In humans, arsenic compounds and insecticides used occupationally have been classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Human data, however, are limited by the small number of studies that evaluate individual pesticides. Epidemiologic studies, although some-times contradictory, have linked phenoxy acid herbicides or contaminants in them with soft tissue sarcoma (STS) and malignant lymphoma; organochlorine insecticides are linked with STS, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), leukemia, and, less consistently, with cancers of the lung and breast; organophosphorous compounds are linked with NHL and leukemia; and triazine herbicides with ovarian cancer.