Wednesday, Sept 30th, 2009
Children living with parents who use pesticides around the home are significantly more likely to develop brain cancer than children who are not exposed to such chemicals, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Researchers matched each of 400 fathers and 250 mothers who reported having been exposed to pesticide products — including insecticide, herbicide and fungicide — with a non-exposed person of the same sex, age and status. All participants lived in residential areas of Florida, New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania. None of them lived in New York City. All were parents of children who had participated in the Atlantic Coast childhood brain cancer study.
The scientists further evaluated each participant’s level of exposure over the two years prior to the birth of their child by means of a phone interview featuring more detailed questions about home or work use of pesticides. Most “exposed” participants were exposed to pesticides through home use — such as garden or lawn care — rather than professionally.
The researchers found that children whose parents had been exposed to pesticides were significantly more likely to develop brain cancers, including astrocytomas and primitive neuroectodermal tumors. The risk of astrocytoma was especially increased by the use of herbicides.
Among “exposed” fathers, those who wore protective clothing or who washed immediately after pesticide use were significantly less likely to have children who developed brain cancer.
Prior studies have linked prenatal pesticide exposure to brain cancer, and the chemicals have also been linked to cancer in a number of animal studies. Researchers do not know exactly how the chemicals lead to cancer, but many pesticides are known to exhibit mutagenic, hormone mimicking or immune-hampering effects. The developing bodies of fetuses and children are especially susceptible to these effects.
Brain cancer is the second most common childhood cancer, after leukemia.
This article was posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 4:26 am