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New Study Links Colon Cancer Deaths to Increased Pesticide Use in Brazil

Twenty percent of crops harvested in Brazil between 2013 and 2015 were not safe for human consumption because of a high concentration of pesticides.

A Brazilian study published in the journal Chemosphere links colon cancer deaths to pesticides use. The research found that the more people use pesticides, the more they developed and died from colon cancer. Brazilian, German and British researchers found that between 2000 and 2012, the rising incidence of colon cancer correlated with the rising use of pesticides within the Latin American country.

“The results show a strong link [between pesticides and colon cancer mortality] and as such cannot be ignored,” said co-author Francis Martin, based at the University of Central Lancashire’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. “It is now critical to determine whether [exposure to pesticides] has the potential to turn normal cells into cancer cells by acting as endocrine disruptors or by damaging DNA.”

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources published data suggesting that more than 162 million tons of pesticides were sold in Brazil in 2000. But this number jumped to about 476 million tons in 2012. Within this two-year period, the Brazilian ministry of health established that colon cancer deaths rose from 946,686 to more than one million despite progress in both treating and diagnosing cancer.

Human and Animal Breast Milk in Brazil Now Contain Traces of Pesticides 

The researchers say that pesticides poison crops and drinking water, further poisoning people and livestock dependent on such crops for food and water for drinking.

Scientists have detected high levels of pesticides in animal and human breast milk in Brazil during the past several years. One of the study’s co-author’s, Vinicius Kannen, a pathologist at the University of São Paulo, revealed that the amount of pesticides in bovine and human breast milk has exceeded safety standards in several Brazilian regions.

Kannen relied on data from the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency. The data established that 20 percent of crops harvested between 2013 and 2015 in the country were not safe for human consumption because of a high concentration of pesticides.

Francis Martin of the University of Central Lancashire’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences noted that researchers must determine at this point whether exposure to pesticides can invariably damage DNA or disrupt the functions of endocrine glands by turning normal body cells into cancer cells.

Most Pesticides Used in Brazil Are Highly Toxic and Banned in Europe

Pesticide use in Brazil makes up 20 percent of the global market, with about $10 billion worth of pesticide marketed in the country annually. Official regulations on pesticide quality and use in Brazil is very poor. Larissa Bombardi of the University of São Paulo told SciDev.net that most of the pesticides and related chemicals sold in Brazil have been banned in Europe due to high toxicity.

The Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources in Brazil noted that just last year, 540,000 tons of pesticides were used in the country, double the rate used in 2010. However, Brazilian lawmakers in June introduced a bill dubbed the “poison package” which aims to speed up the pesticide review and approval process and approval from the current five to eight years.


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