If you’ve ever used the popular weed-killer, Roundup and started coughing while you were using it, you may have begun to wonder about its safety. You aren’t alone! Many others wondered the same thing and have gone so far as to have their health checked as a result. Unfortunately, the reality is that many have suffered deadly illnesses that are believed to have been caused by Roundup.
Roundup has been used in gardens, garden centers, and farms around the world. It’s prevalent in the United States for residential use. Just go to your local Home Depot, Lowes, or other home and garden store, and you’ll see there’s a whole rack dedicated to Roundup products. With how widely it’s promoted, you would think it would be the safest option for weed killers. However, that’s not the case.
Roundup’s main ingredient is glyphosate. This popular weed-killing chemical inhibits a specific enzyme in plants that is necessary to manufacture amino acids. This enzyme is solely present in plants and can’t be found in animals or humans. This is what originally led scientists to believe it was relatively nontoxic.
Because it’s not safe to expose people directly to large amounts of Roundup or other glyphosate products, studies have been done using certain lines of evidence. Correlation doesn’t always mean causation, so many studies have tried to look at what could be contributing to the connection between cancer cases and Roundup exposure.
In vitro studies are those that look at the effects of something grown in a lab. Glyphosate was used on lymphocytes that were grown in vitro to evaluate the potential harm it could do to DNA. During this test, it was found that glyphosate caused DNA damage and other issues similar to a common chemotherapy drug called VePesid (etoposide). The scientists in this particular study said there was an acute change, but they believe chronic exposure could lead to cumulative damage as time went on. Some other studies showed evidence that glyphosate:
According to the IARC, Roundup is believed to have “sufficient evidence” of causing cancer in animals. They conducted a review of several studies that had used rats and mice, and they reported relatively strong evidence that glyphosate could lead to kidney tumors, hemangiosarcomas, and lymphomas. There was also an indication of increased chances of developing basal cell cancers of the skin, liver tumors, adrenal gland tumors, and mutations in B cells.
Epidemiologists studied several populations to identify an association between non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Roundup. While non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is fairly common, they did note that the cases of it increased between 1975 and 2006, after Roundup had entered the market. They also noted that the incidences of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were higher with those who had occupational exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-containing herbicides, or with those who lived on or near farmland that used these herbicides.
While the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a concern, scientists have also voiced concern over the possibility of it causing:
There is also concern that it may be affecting nutrients in food products and could be creating a certain amount of toxicity in the foods it’s used on.
Roundup has been studied in labs for decades, and researchers have discovered that it contains a very harmful ingredient that can suffocate human cells. This toxic active ingredient, glyphosate, is the most widely used herbicide globally. According to the EPA, approximately 100 million pounds are applied to farms, lawns, and gardens in the United States alone. In 2015, the World Health Organization declared that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen.
Now, glyphosate on its own in small amounts isn’t harmful enough for regulatory agencies to be concerned. However, when combined with certain inert ingredients, glyphosate’s toxic effect can be amplified. This is the issue that is being brought up in many legal claims against Monsanto’s Roundup products. Roundup’s unique mixture has been found by scientists to produce an amplified toxic effect on human cells and appears to be connected to many cancer cases.
According to a research team from France’s University of Caen, they suspect that Roundup could cause pregnancy problems, as it can interfere with hormone production. They believe that this could lead to low birth weights, abnormal fetal development, and miscarriages. A specific inert ingredient used in Roundup, called polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), is more deadly to human placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells than glyphosate.
The manufacturer of Roundup, Monsanto, argues that the results from the study out of France are inaccurate. The scientists used methods that Monsanto believes don’t reflect realistic conditions. When the WHO declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen in 2015, Monsanto hid information about the potential cancer link until 2017. Monsanto also believes that its product is entirely safe to use if used as directed.
The EPA considers glyphosate to have low toxicity when used at the recommended doses. The problem is that when glyphosate is combined with other products that can amplify its toxicity, it poses real dangers. The EPA has classified glyphosate as a Group E chemical, meaning there is strong evidence that it doesn’t cause cancer within recommended doses. They also recognize POEA as an inert ingredient that isn’t dangerous to the environment or public health. However, many scientists and research teams are urging the EPA and other health agencies to take a closer look at the effects of glyphosate and POEA together. They believe that the combination of glyphosate and POEA is producing the harmful health issues and cancer cases that have been reported in people who have used Roundup.
The WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) are a couple of the very few health agencies that have classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.
Recently, a study was conducted by scientists at UC Berkeley, University of Washington, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. These scientists focused their study on people who had experienced the highest levels of exposure to glyphosate. Their findings revealed that these individuals (typically agricultural and garden center workers) had a 41% higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Their meta-analysis was conducted by merging the information provided by six earlier studies that had focused on individuals with the highest exposure levels.
Based on this study and others, it seems that ordinary consumers who use Roundup infrequently have a very slim chance of developing non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. For agricultural and garden center workers who are constantly exposed to glyphosate, there is more cause for concern. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 42 men (2.4%) and 1 in 54 women (1.9%) typically develop non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. If the study mentioned above is correct about the 41% increase in risk for highly exposed individuals, then those odds increase to 2.6% of women and 3.4% of men have an increased risk.
Many different types of evidence are used by scientists to address cancer risk, including:
Having one of these points toward a link to cancer is not enough to prove causation. There need to be multiple types of evidence that point toward a link. In the case of Roundup, there are many that point to a possible connection. Enough that many cases that have come forward have resulted in compensation being awarded to victims.
We have been investigating cases of cancer that have been linked from Roundup to several types of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, including cases of:
Due to these known cases, Bayer, the Roundup manufacturer, has set aside $9.6 billion to resolve Roundup cancer claims. They have also submitted a proposal to settle future claims in a $2 billion class-action lawsuit. The last word on this proposal was that Federal Judge Vincent Chhabria would hear it in May 2021.
Bayer and Monsanto have faced numerous lawsuits over their Roundup product. Most of these were filed by farmworkers and gardeners who developed cancer after using the product. Many of the people living with cancer have been awarded compensation amounts in millions of dollars. There are an estimated 125,000+ cases currently and expected to go through the court system.
If you or a loved one has developed cancer after using Roundup, you could be eligible for financial compensation and should seek legal help to file your claim. Don’t let corporate greed and negligence continue. It’s time to hold them accountable.