Home Pesticide Use Tied to Child Cancer Risk

shutterstock_132629654When we discover a bug in the kitchen (this story is not about computers) it is really easy to grab the “bug bomb” and zap it.  It seems to be that, as a society, we are very intolerant of bugs even though they outnumber us many fold.  Besides, all we have to do is run down to the local grocery store or hardware store and pick up the latest chemical to kill those offending critters.   However, the price we pay for doing this may be far greater than the few dollars we pay at the store.            shutterstock_82313764

The October 2015 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics reports a study of many research studies (known as a meta-analysis) about low dose use of pesticides and their effects on children. (RESIDENTIAL EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDE DURING CHILDHOOD AND CHILDHOOD CANCERS: A META-ANALYSIS).  Their conclusion?   “We found that childhood exposure to indoor but not outdoor residential insecticides was associated with a significant increase in risk of childhood leukemia…and childhood lymphomas.   A significant increase in risk of leukemia was also associated with herbicide exposure…” There was even some suggestion that pesticide or herbicide exposure could be associated with increased incidence of brain tumors.

I remember vividly working with families who had a child with leukemia or lymphoma.  At the time I was practicing child psychiatry and one of my specialties was working with families with sick children.  While we all attempted to keep a positive attitude, seeing a child suffering with a potentially terminal illness like these cancers is very stressful.  The families and the children themselves were courageous.  When the treatments were not successful, we all felt the loss.  Thank goodness childhood cancer is relatively rare.  What if we could prevent even this small amount?  What if we could keep the beauty and sparkle of childhood for more children?  What if a significant number of these cancers could be prevented by using integrative pest management instead of just “bombing” the bugs?

The basic policies of integrative pest management include exclusion, i.e. keeping the bugs out and not providing food for them through careful cleanliness and cleaning up food crumbs instead of leaving them as a meal for the critters.

If these methods are not enough, there are far less toxic compounds that can be used to keep bug population down.  One of the best is soap and water.  Additionally, we now have more products derived from essential oils that do not have the deleterious effect of the pesticides. There is also diatomaceous earth. For example, you can shake it onto the opening to an ant hill, along the trail of ants in your kitchen, and/or sprinkle it onto their entry point.  Note: it is only effective when dry.

Remember, the “-cide” part of the words pesticide or herbicide means the chemical “kills.” Pesticides and herbicides are more lethal than we realize.

Wishing a healthy 2016 to all.

About Cathie Lippman, M.D.

I invite you to visit my website: http://www.cathielippmanmd.com/
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