USC researchers have begun examining the link between pesticide exposure and the development of prostate cancer, with scientists documenting an increased prevalence of prostate cancer among older men exposed to certain pesticides. While this news is alarming on its own, it is only one of the many dangers associated with pesticide exposure.
Exploring the Cancer Connection
Prostate cancer effects one in six men at some point during their life and is, according to the National Cancer Institute, the third most common cancer killer among men. Although diet and genetics are risk factors, research has indicated that men who are exposed to chemicals including farmers, painters, and industrial workers may also be at an increased risk of developing this deadly cancer.
For the study, researchers from USC recruited 173 older men between the ages of 60 to 74 that had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the Central Valley of California between August 2005 and July 2006. An extensive questionnaire was used to determine where the men lived and were employed between 1974 and 1999. This data was compared to the state pesticide and land use records. The control group was comprised of 162 men who did not have prostate cancer.
Study participants who lived within a 500 meter range of areas that were sprayed with a variety of pesticides including captan, methyl bromide and organochlorine-based chemicals were more likely to have developed prostate cancer.
Finding from this study demonstrated that certain pesticides may, in fact, interact with genes in men with a family history of prostate cancer, making conditions for cancer development more favorable.
Of course this is in no way the first time that pesticides have been implicated in the development of cancer, nor the first time that pesticide exposure has been associated with prostate cancer. (Here are 7 nasty effects of pesticides).
Deadly Agent Orange
The deadly Vietnam War chemical Agent Orange has been linked to increased risks in war veterans according to a 2008 University of California Davis Cancer Center report. According to researchers, war veterans exposed to Agent Orange, have a greater risk of getting the most aggressive form of prostate cancer compared to those who were not exposed.