Pesticides, Health, and Weak Cancer Criteria.

Posted on December 2, 2009

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I am constantly surprised to still often run into basically health-conscious, intelligent people who seem to have no concern about pesticides. I’m always reading on this subject and trying to stay up to date and am a strong proponent of organic food. Recent reading from MyEnvironmentalHealth.org, an excellent mainstream medical source of research and advice on cancer prevention :

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services publication “Cancer and the Environment,” there are approximately 900 registered pesticides in the U.S. today. Of those 900 pesticides, 20 active ingredients are known to cause cancer. It is also important to note that pesticides registered by the EPA do not indicate that they are safe to use, but that there are particular handling methods to ensure user safety…

(“The Center for Environmental Oncology (CEO) was established in 2004 by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) as the first program of its kind in the nation. The CEO focuses on developing strategies to reduce cancer by translating scientific findings about avoidable, environmental causes of cancer into effective ways to minimize risks.”)

What is important to note is that the criteria for determining cancer risk from an agri-chemical is rather loose. Safety testing for the approval is much less stringent than one might expect having more to do with its short-term effect, not causing instant death, in a few lab animals. Cancer takes longer to show up, often 10 to 20 years, as we have seen with numerous other chemicals, medications, and as we are beginning to notice with cellphone radiation. So the pesticides that are listed as known carcinogens are generally those that have, over many years and extensive involuntary human testing, been observed to be cancer causing. Another consideration is that risk to health is assessed on a chemical-by-chemical basis, not combinations of chemicals, effecting cumulatively; like say all those 900 pesticides, plus all the other thousands of evolutionarily novel chemical compounds we are imbued with from other sources, all floating around in our unsuspecting bodies. The epidemic of new cancers we are seeing, which is for the most part claimed to be idiopathic, ie; of unknown origin, by the medical establishment, I think has a fairly likely, yet almost un-researchable broadly multiferous cause.
What can we do? We can’t avoid all potentially harmful chemicals.
Simple things I’m always ranting about: Organic food, natural cleaning products and cosmetics go a long way, and these are things you have direct control over. Beyond that, get informed, support safer food and products with your dollars. You the consumer moves the market and creates change with how you spend. You may also want to support good research and maybe even write a few letters to companies or government. It does have an effect, especially with companies who are motivated by the needs and desires of you the consumer.

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