This Bug Killer May Be Killing You

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    Pyrethroids

    By Kennedy Shelley

    A new urgent warning has been raised by scientists about a chemical that is used in most common pesticides.

    A chemical known as pyrethroids has been linked to a number of dangerous conditions including Parkinson’s disease.

    Pyrethroids are used in nearly one-third of all pesticides in the world, and until now it was generally considered safe.  But new research is casting doubt on this assumption.

    This type of pesticide is used heavily in agriculture and household bug killers, but it’s also in shampoos that kill lice and lotions we use to keep biting insects away.

    Because most pesticides are sprayed, the people doing the spraying often inadvertently ingest part of the chemicals, and therein lies the problem.

    When pyrethroids enter our system, it is broken down into metabolites which generally leave the body in our urine within a few hours.  Thankfully that makes them fairly easy to measure.

    Short term exposure doesn’t seem to be a problem, but it’s the long-term chronic exposure that started ringing alarm bells.

    This is not coming from some environmental whack jobs who hate every modern convenience, this warning was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on December 30, 2019.

    They looked at nearly 2000 people, both men and women to see what level of exposure they had and tracked their health over a number of years, and the results were startling.

    Chronically elevated levels of pyrethroids were linked to higher all cause death, heart disease, and other dangerous conditions.

    The baseline level of exposure to the pesticide was tested from 2000 to 2002 and people’s health was compared in 2015.  That’s when the red flags went off.  Scientists had never looked at pyrethroid exposure and long-term mortality until this study.

    Of the nearly 2000 study participants, 246 died.  The scientists then normalized the results based on factors such as their weight and health habits.

    People with high levels of exposure were dying earlier than they should.

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    While the authors of the study don’t have a strong enough conclusion to call for an all-out ban of this pesticide, they do believe that there is enough evidence that warrants a new look at this popular product.

    They admit they don’t know why this was happening, but they don’t think it was just a fluke.  These types of studies are called “associational.”

    For example, the reason why the Surgeon General warned Americans about the dangers of smoking was there was a well known demonstrated risk between smoking and lung cancer.

    This was not proven by taking a bunch of non-smokers, giving them cigarettes for 20 years and then following them up, but there was such a strong link between lung cancer and cigarette smokers that the association was considered very high.

    This study does not claim this level of association, but it was striking enough that it warrants further investigation according to the study’s authors.