Exposure to common herbicide promotes breast cancer development, new study reveals
(NaturalHealth365) It’s well known that genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors all play a role in the development of chronic diseases like cancer. As for environmental factors specifically, acute and/or chronic exposure to harmful carcinogenic toxins – often manmade and utilized in manufacturing or agricultural processes – is one of the chief risk factors, especially for conditions like breast cancer.
Now, a new study published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety highlights yet another environmental toxin that could help explain the increasing rates of breast cancer among women. The good news is, with the right information, we can dramatically reduce our risk by taking action today. Keep reading to understand the scope of the problem and how to avoid being harmed.
Popular conventional herbicide compound “promotes breast cancer development,” says new research study
The study in highlight, says “Atrazine promotes breast cancer development by suppressing immune function and upregulating MMP expression.” Published in the March 2023 volume of the aforementioned peer-reviewed journal, the study begins by pointing out that a common herbicide called atrazine is “used extensively” and “is present in both surface water and groundwater.” The authors also stated that laboratory and epidemiological studies had reported an “interfering effect on immune systems, endocrine systems, and tumours” concerning this toxic chemical.
In their study investigating the effects of atrazine on cancer development, the researchers were able to determine that this environmental toxin is cancer-promoting for at least a couple reasons:
- It suppresses immune cell function (specifically, anti-tumor immune function)
- It upregulates (activates) enzymes that help promote tumor development and growth
The authors go so far as to categorize atrazine as “primarily toxic to immune organs.”
While it should be noted that this study involved laboratory practices – including the use of cell cultures and animal models – its results do offer some critical insight into how this popular herbicide can cause harm to humans.
The researchers write that their study “demonstrated that atrazine accelerated the cell cycle and encouraged the proliferation and invasion of breast cancer tumor cells. Furthermore, atrazine can reduce anti-tumor immunity by decreasing lymphocyte infiltration and modulating cytokine production inside the tumor microenvironment, thereby promoting tumor immune escape and breast cancer progression. To fully understand the mechanism underlying atrazine’s immunosuppression of breast cancers, further research is needed.”
So, what is atrazine exactly?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), atrazine (6-chloro-N-ethyl N’-(1-methylethyl)-triazine-2,4-diamine) is a commonly used and popular herbicide (often sold under brand names Aatrex®, Aatram®, Atratol®, and Gesaprim®) that is used to kill weeds. Most often used on farms, atrazine is often sprayed on crops of sugarcane, corn, pineapples, sorghum, macadamia nuts, and evergreen trees.
In addition, the herbicide is also often used to prevent weed growth in more public areas, such as highways and railroads.
Considered a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP), atrazine may only be used or purchased by “certified herbicide users,” who must apply for licensure through their state office.
So, how might you be exposed? The CDC notes that atrazine can stay in the water (including groundwater, rivers, lakes, and streams) “for a long time,” but they claim this herbicide “does not tend to accumulate in living organisms such as algae, bacteria, clams, or fish, and, therefore, does not tend to build up in the food chain.” This means one of the primary routes of exposure is through contaminated drinking water (people living near farms where this chemical is used are also at increased risk of exposure). Indeed, atrazine has been detected in at least 20 Superfund sites in the United States.
The CDC adds that potential health effects of exposure to this herbicide include:
- Harm to the reproductive system
- Liver, heart, and kidney damage
- Cancer (as we’ve learned)
- Fetal development problems, including low fetal weight and heart, urinary, and limb defects (following maternal exposure)
As for reducing your risk of exposure, the CDC recommends some common-sense tactics, such as avoiding playing or being in areas near where atrazine is used, investing in a good quality water purification system for your home and/or office, and cleaning and vacuuming your floors regularly (since small amounts of atrazine have been detected in carpets in some Midwestern homes).
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