For longer life and less cancer: Pesticides!?

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Gardening with pesticides

A large, U.K. government-supported study, The Pesticide Users Health Study, 1987-2005 (PUHS) was released this week. This huge evaluation of various health outcomes focused on mortality and cancer incidence data collected from 59,000 male and 4,000 female certified pesticide commercial users over almost two decades.

The results, which are sure to come as a welcome surprise to those who are truly concerned about the possible adverse health effects of pesticide exposure, revealed a significantly lower rate of all-cause death as well as cancer death among the workers as compared to the general UK population. The decreased total death rate was down by an astounding 42 percent, and the lower cancer death rate was down an almost-as-amazing 28 percent. (Of course, as welcome as these results will be to public health devotees and farmers, those activists who obsessively attack the alleged toxicity of pesticides will now have to do some regrouping).

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross pointed out some further details: This independent, large, well-done analysis may help to stem the anti-pesticide crusaders who routinely ignore the immense benefits that crop protection chemicals provide to farmers and, especially, to anyone who consumes agricultural products meaning everybody. The increased yields and higher quality of produce in America and the west is largely thanks to chemicals like chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, and atrazine tough names for people to remember, but why should they, when the bounty they enhance is on their dinner tables every day.

Of course, since the UK study assessed many different outcomes, almost all of which came out to be no threat to health, it was still a statistical certainty that some adverse findings would be noted. I would bet that a number of the most cynical anti-chemical groups will try to fixate on those few and ignore the overall report s findings. It should also be noted that our recent publication, Pesticides and Health, had similar findings regarding the lack of health risk from common pesticide exposures.