Monday, June 19, 2017 by Tracey Watson
A new report by the American Cancer Society has made the alarming revelation that rates of liver cancer deaths have doubled in this country since the mid-1980s. The report, which appears in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, offers several possible reasons for this startling increase, including higher rates of hepatitis C infection, an increase in obesity rates, higher alcohol consumption, and a lack of access to healthcare in some demographics. What the report does not discuss, however, is the proven link between pesticides and liver cancer.
It is important to recognize not just some, but all of the risk factors for liver disease, because it kills more than 29,000 people each year. Liver disease is recognized as the fifth leading cause of cancer death in men, and the eighth in women in the United States. Looked at globally, however, liver cancer is second only to lung cancer in terms of total cancer deaths.
A recent meta-analysis of 16 different studies, which included over 480,000 participants from Asia, the U.S. and Europe, examined the link between pesticide exposure and the development of one of the most common forms of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma. The study determined that pesticide exposure was linked to a 71 percent increased risk of liver cancer.
Hamdi Abdi, a cancer research fellow at the National Cancer Institute, and the lead author of the study, noted that while other liver cancer causes like hepatitis C infections and alcohol abuse are well documented, it is important to recognize the role that pesticides also play in the development of this type of cancer.
The nature of the studies included in the meta-analysis made it difficult to determine exactly which pesticides were responsible for the increased risk and at what levels, and more studies are needed to narrow this down. [RELATED: Find out which common herbicide still used in the U.S. is banned in the E.U. because it causes cancer.]
In the meantime, however, studies like this one highlight yet another reason we should be making the transition from conventionally grown fruit and veggies to locally sourced, organic, pesticide-free options.
Of course, organic foods offer far more than just protection from liver cancer. In fact, pesticide use has been linked to the development of at least nine chronic diseases: