Holistic Nutrition & Prevention

Pesticide, insecticide use linked to leukemia

By Sari Huhtala

I watched a neighbour last year spraying his half-acre, perfectly-manicured cottage lawn with pesticides and thought, I wonder if he had any inkling, as he obsessed over his lawn, that he was increasing his risk of developing cancer? Not to mention destroying dandelions which are anti-cancer medicine, contaminating ground water and harming the health of the planet he lives on.

If living without leukemia is one of your goals, then perhaps make friends with the dandelions, and also find natural alternatives to get rid of indoor pests, considering the fact insecticides have been found to contain carcinogenic chemicals.

In 2020, over 50 million kilograms of glyphosate pesticide was sold in Canada, according to Environmental Defence. That equates to a lot of people obsessing over their lawns. And, according to a 2007 review – Cancer health effects of pesticides – a significant increase in risk of developing leukemia. As of 2016, there were 39 pesticide products with glyphosate as an active ingredient registered for domestic use in Canada.

The 2007 review included studies on chemicals commonly used in weed killers and insecticides available at hardware stores, including glyphosate-based products. Most studies found a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with many classes of pesticides and insecticides.

“Increased rates of all types of leukemia were found in children whose parents used insecticides in the garden and on indoor plants and whose mothers had been exposed while pregnant,” according to the review. Exposure to insecticides during pregnancy posed the greatest risk of a child developing leukemia.  

A largescale European study also found prenatal exposure to pesticides, both indoors at home and in the workplace, was strongly linked to brain cancer. The review also found pesticide exposure associated with several other forms of cancer.

“The use of professional pest control services at any time from one year before birth to three years after was associated with a significantly increased risk of childhood leukemia,” according to the 2002 study – Critical windows of exposure to household pesticides and risk of childhood leukemia. The highest risk was from exposure at age two.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been on the rise for over 25 years, despite improved diagnostic methods, according to a cross-Canada study of pesticides and health, according to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Specific Pesticide Exposures in Men: A Cross-Canada Study of Pesticides and Health.

A natural pest deterrent like food-grade diatomaceous earth in the home to control pests like ants, mites, spiders, crickets and moths, and to control garden pests, is a great alternative to pesticides and herbicides. Many garden pests are also naturally deterred by pungent herbs and flowers, and by attracting beneficial insects into the garden to control pests.

Remember, dandelions are nature’s little holistic helper, as anti-cancer medicine, along with several other healthful properties.

Photo credit: ©MelSi via Canva.com

Sari Huhtala is the creator, publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine. She has over 25 years experience in journalism and over 15 years experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She is an organic farmer, wild-crafter and grandmother, who has spent over 20 years of navigating a holistic, healthy path for her family.

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