Pesticides Associated with Cancer Risk

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Pesticides have been linked with the risk for developing cancer. How to avoid pesticide exposure.Boosting your nutritional health by purchasing organic produce is a lot easier than it used to be. Gone are the days when you had to track down a specialty store that sells a limited amount of fruits and vegetables in season. Now you can find organic foods in most of the major grocery store chains.

Though still a little higher than those for conventional food, prices for organic produce have dropped somewhat from their initial high markup. Organic produce is no longer thought of as a rare commodity intended for consumption by only a few “health nuts.” A lot of shoppers now try to buy their favorite fruit or vegetable from the organic section to boost their nutritional health.

Why the big push towards organic? According to recent health news, pesticides can pose health risks. Pesticides are known neurotoxins and have been implicated in everything from ADHD to serious hormonal imbalances. Now, a new study has found that exposure to high levels of pesticides could raise the odds for getting cancer significantly.

For the study, a research team looked at organochlorine (OC) pesticides — a group of environmental endocrine disruptors that may be associated with an increased risk for hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancers. Using data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the research team examined associations between serum concentrations of OC pesticides and prostate and breast cancers.

The researchers found that serum concentrations of B-hexachlorocyclohexane were significantly associated with the risk of prevalent prostate cancer. However, there was no significant positive association between serum concentrations of OC pesticides and breast cancer prevalence in this particular trial. The research team would like to conduct further studies, but concluded that these results suggest that OC pesticide exposures may have a significant effect on cancer risk. They also said that efforts to reduce worldwide OC use are warranted.

What does this mean? Certainly this doesn’t mean that you should avoid eating fruits and vegetables. What you can do, however, is to try to follow this health advice: buy organic as much as possible and reduce your exposure to pesticides. You can try buying organic at farmers’ markets where prices tend to be lower. You can also make sure that you wash conventional fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. There are specialty soaps that are available in most grocery stores that can help remove some pesticide residue from produce.