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Chemical weedkillers linked to double the rate of depression in farmers

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 by: Lance Johnson
Tags: herbicides, chemical weedkillers, depression

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(NaturalNews) As chemical companies manufacture their own falsified studies on the safety of their weed killers, herbicides like Roundup are used liberally and without caution. The glyphosate weedkillers like Roundup are now dumped into the Earth at the rate of 900 million pounds annually, creating a toxic, chemical environment.

These chemicals not only destroy the beneficial bacteria in the human gut, weakening human immune systems, but they're also being tied to factors involved in depression.

In fact, a new study out of France details how years long exposure to weed killers can contribute to farmers' depression.

The researchers have found a link but cannot prove a direct cause and effect relationship. Their study, however, shows how age, coupled with contributing factors like smoking, can heighten the depressive effects of weed killer exposure.

It "is not clear" whether the weed killers are causing depression, said Marc Weisskopf, the study's lead author and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. "But (the result) suggests we should not be ignoring herbicides just because they're targeting plants."

On the surface, the study actually finds little evidence linking weed killers to depression

Weisskopf pointed out that earlier research indicates that pesticides, particularly organophosphates, are indeed neurotoxins. Their latest study narrows herbicide's impact on a farmer's mental health as they age.

For their study, Weisskopf and his team of researchers surveyed 567 farmers, asking them about their use of fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides. The study went in depth to provide evidence. They went over bills for pesticide purchases, inspected pesticides containers on the farms, and studied farming calendars. The researchers then ventured to ask the farmers whether they had ever been treated for depression.

The results, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, lay out the results of their study.

15 percent (83) farmers said they had been treated for depression
  • 47 Never used pesticides
  • 36 had a history of pesticide use
The correlation? On the surface - practically none at all. Using pesticides on the farm was not found to cause depression in farmers, but that's not all.

Weed killer's domino effects start in the gut and work their way to the brain

The researchers dug in further, trying to find synergistic links to the farmer's depression. Other factors that were linked with the farmer's depression included their age and cigarette smoking. The farmers oldest in age, who were exposed to weed killers the longest, were about 250 percent more likely to have been treated for depression!

Possibly, the depression is linked to the farmers' general poor health, caused by multiple simultaneous factors. One of those factors starts in the gut. Maintaining good gut flora is essential to immune system function, digestion, and even mood.

Chemicals like glyphosate, which destroy the beneficial bacteria in the gut, ultimately enable "bad" bacteria to penetrate a person's gut wall, allowing toxins enter the blood stream and ultimately bypass the blood-brain barrier.

In general, the cause of depression may not be the weed killer itself, but may instead be a long chain of factors that can be spurred by weed killer chemicals. It's important to note that the weed killers play an important role in allowing toxins to effect the nervous system. Good health starts in the gut.

Furthermore, the researchers found out that farmers who had greater exposure to herbicides (longer hours and more years) showed higher incidence of depression than those farmers who had used weed killers less often. The study cannot prove cause and effect, but can connect dosage amount to poor mood.

Herbicides shouldn't be taken lightly

Cheryl Beseler, a researcher at Colorado State University said, I think people tend to not take (the risks of pesticides) seriously when they're gardeners."

The lead researcher, Weisskopf reiterates that it will be valuable to understand the dangers of herbicides in both farming and in home gardening.

"It's very important given their widespread use around the home," he said.

He went on to say that more research is needed to understand herbicides; encouraging farmers and gardeners alike to be more diligent about protecting oneself from chemical exposure.

"If (herbicides) are considered in general safer and people take less precautions because people think they're not as bad, then that poses a problem," Weisskopf said.

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