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Working with pesticides raises women's risk of diabetes


(NaturalNews) It's no secret that certain factors such as mass body index (BMI), race and family history are among the main contributors associated with diabetes development. While such risk factors still play a role, a new study has found that there's likely another reason behind onset of the disease, one that specifically involves women.

Researchers from North Carolina State University assessed data from a large population study that focused on the female spouses of agricultural workers in Iowa and North Carolina who had ever mixed or applied pesticides themselves. Ultimately, they discovered that an elevated diabetes risk existed among the wives of farmers and pesticide applicators. In particular, five classes of pesticides were linked to the heightened risk of diabetes for these women.

Study's list of pesticides associated with increased diabetes risk among women

The five classes of pesticides associated with heightened levels of diabetes are as follows:

1. Dieldrin (organochlorine insecticide banned in US in 1985)

2. Fonofos (organophosphate insecticide banned in US in 1999)

3. Phorate (organophosphate insecticide still allowed to limited extent, pending EPA review)

4. Parathion (organophosphate insecticide, phased out in early 2000s)

5. 2,4,5-T/2,4,5-TP (chlorophenoxy herbicide both banned since 1985)

The study, titled "Pesticide use and incident diabetes among wives of farmers in the Agricultural Health Study," was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Its objective was "To estimate associations between use of specific agricultural pesticides and incident diabetes in women," summarizing the findings as follows:

Results are consistent with previous studies reporting an association between specific organochlorines and diabetes and add to growing evidence that certain organophosphates also may increase risk.

Study stresses importance of more long-term research, making proactive food-buying choices

The findings demonstrate the need to continue engaging in long-term studies. While these pesticides have been banned or phased out, the fact that health complications developed years later builds the case that health problems from these toxins are often cumulative. Health consequences may take years to impact people, as this study shows.

Furthermore, this study also brings to light the term, obesogens. It explains that obesity -- a key player in the development of diabetes -- can be caused or made worse by exposure to pesticides and other environmental toxins.

Finally, the study stresses the importance of buying organic. Doing so has far-reaching effects beyond one's own health, as choosing organic shows support for the health of a farmer, their family and people in surrounding agricultural communities.

Beyond diabetes: the impact of organophosphate insecticides on overall health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings take place annually in the United States agricultural worker community.

For example, Phorate is one of the organophosphate insecticides identified in this study (see list above). According to the CDC, it's linked to a long list of health hazards. It can impact the central nervous system, respiratory and cardiovascular system and lead to everything from wheezing and exhaustion to paralysis, low blood pressure and coma.

Another organophosphate on this study's list, Fonofos, is also associated with a slew of health problems. The CDC notes that it can cause nausea, abdominal cramps, chest tightness, blurred vision and breathing complications, to name just a few symptoms.

To address hazards related to harmful pesticides, the EPA has suggested changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) in an effort to better ensure the health of agricultural workers and those in the surrounding area. For example, no-entry buffer areas around farms treated with pesticides (to help protect from fumes and overspray) is one aspect that has been considered. Additionally, making information that pertains to the pesticide application, including the pesticide label and Safety Data Sheets, available to farm workers as well as their advocates, is also listed. Such application and labeling information would also be made known to medical personnel as well.

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