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Study Links Herbicide use and Cancer

by aseligmann — last modified Aug 02, 2010 12:00 AM

A series of studies has found that farmers develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma more often than other people do, but until now it has been difficult for scientists to explain why this increase occurs. New research, however, shows that exposure to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup, is one explanation. The study was published in 2003 by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Kansas University Medical Center, and the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

A series of studies has found that farmers develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma more often than other people do, but until now it has been difficult for scientists to explain why this increase occurs. New research, however, shows that exposure to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup, is one explanation. The study was published in 2003 by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Kansas University Medical Center, and the University of Iowa College of Medicine. 

How was the study conducted?

The 2003 study combined results collected in three earlier studies in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. By combining the three studies, the researchers were able to look at information about over 3,000 farmers. They used sophisticated statistical techniques to look at the relationship of exposure to 47 different pesticides and the occurrence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

What did the study find?

 Use of nine pesticides (six insecticides and three herbicides) was linked to more cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. One of the herbicides was glyphosate. Other commonly used pesticides with a significant link were the insecticide diazinon and the herbicide atrazine.

Study Summary: De Roos, A.J et al. 2003. Integrative assessment of multiple pesticides as risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among men. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 60:e11