Activists, like those over at the Pesticide Action Network, claim that Americans are experiencing a "cancer epidemic," and vaguely assert that there supposedly is a "growing scientific consensus that environmental contaminants are causing cancer in humans." Of course, the "environmental contaminants" that are allegedly the most worrisome are pesticides.
Earlier this month, a new study by the British government's Health and Safety Laboratory reported that the cancer rate among British pesticide workers is lower than that of the general population. From the report:
There were 1,628 deaths among 59,085 male and 3,875 female pesticide users during the follow-up period. Compared with the population of Great Britain, the pesticide users had lower than expected mortality from all causes, and in particular from all cancers combined, cancers of the digestive organs, cancers of the respiratory system, and non-malignant diseases of the nervous system and sense organs, and of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. There was some evidence of excess deaths from multiple myeloma in men and women, and possibly also from testicular cancer.
With regard to the slightly greater rates of multiple myeloma and testicular cancer, the report noted:
There was some evidence of excess deaths from multiple myeloma among men and women, and possibly also some excess of testicular cancer deaths. With the limited data available, it was not possible to investigate whether these were linked with particular jobs, working practices or pesticides.
If the rate of cancer among people who work with pesticides daily is lower, then it is exceedingly unlikely that consumer exposure to trace amounts of pesticides measurably increases their risk of cancer. In any case, the activist claim that U.S. is in the midst of a growing cancer epidemic is false. Cancer incidence rates have been falling since the early 1990s.
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