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Will pesticides damage my health?

From: A Balanced View,

21
December
2009
Will pesticides damage my health?

Organic food. The posh looking food in the supermarket with a higher price tag. And as the recession has hit more and more people have opted out of buying organic.

Actually organic is so much more than a posh label. Organic food is produced without artificial chemicals or genetic modification, and with respect for animal welfare and the environment. And importantly, studies show pesticides are damaging to our health.

Some chemicals and pesticides initiate cancer by causing genetic alterations that lead to a cancerous tumour. Examples of chemicals in food that cause cancer in humans are

  • vinyl chloride, which causes liver sarcomas
  • arsenic, which causes skin and lung cancer
  • benzene, which causes leukaemia

Developmental toxicants cause low birth weight, physiological, behavioural, or biological problems that are either apparent at birth, or become apparent as the child grows.

Neurotoxic compounds are toxic to the brain, spinal cord, or other parts of the nervous system. Effects range from muscle weakness, tremors, confusion, memory loss, and permanently impaired behaviour or learning capacity. It can cause disease such as Parkinsons for example

Reproductive toxicants are chemicals that damage reproductive organs. The effects can include disruption of the menstrual cycle, miscarriages, changes in onset of puberty, premature menopause, and alterations in sexual behaviour. In males, reproductive toxicants can cause decreased sperm counts, a decrease in the number and percentage of healthy sperm, altered sexual behaviour, decreased fertility and even sterility.

The endocrine (hormone) system is the body's messenger system, linking different organs and organ systems via chemical signals that tell the body everything from when it is time to grow reproductive organs, to when metabolism should be increased. Chemicals can disrupt these messages by blocking the hormone receptors in cells, while others inhibit the ability of different glands to create the hormones in the first place. Other chemicals affect the way that these hormones are stored, transported, and eventually destroyed.

Immunotoxic chemicals interfere with the complex chemical balance necessary for proper working of the body's immune system. Some chemicals like PCBs, dioxin, and organochlorine pesticides can interfere with the body's ability to create anti-bodies. Other chemicals, like formaldehyde and the pesticide malathion can hyper-stimulate the immune system, causing the body to create an systemic over-abundance of antibodies that can actually start attacking healthy cells.

Organic has now become big business with large companies launching organic ranges.

When you add up the potential health risks with non organic produce it makes you wonder whether organic food is not simply a ‘lifestyle’ choice, but a matter of life over death. I know which one I would rather choose.

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