Atrazine not a carcinogen, study says

Who didn’t know that the Environmental Working Group was wrong about atrazine being a carcinogen?

The herbicide atrazine was not associated with cancer in a study of 36,357 applicators (i.e., a relatively highly-exposed population), according to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

The Environmental Working Group has spent more than a decade trying to scare the public about atrazine as a carcinogen.

As EHP often (mostly? virtually always) publishes junk science, readers may be wondering why would credit any EHP study?

First, standard fare in EHP is positive, but weak association epidemiology, which is axiomatically junk science. Negative epidemiologic results are, however, a horse of a much different color. They report nothing because there is nothing to report.

If atrazine was harming anyone, then surely a large study of the most highly exposed humans (i.e., applicators), would surely report something. But it doesn’t, so case closed.

And given the hysteria fomented about atrazine by EWG, EHP could hardly pass up publication.

Other salient points:

  • This study was jointly conducted by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA. So it wasn’t “industry funded.”
  • This study has been ongoing since 1994 with some 89,000 study subjects, including farmers in Iowa (a big atrazine-on-corn state) and North Carolina. The farmers mix and spray atrazine and then work in the sprayed fields.
  • The mention of a potential association with thyroid cancer is simple statistical noise. The last report on this cohort from six years ago mentioned slight elevations in multiple myeloma and Hodgkins lymphoma — but no report of elevated those this time.
  • As far as endocrine disruption, there was no increase in prostate cancer, breast cancer or other hormonally sensitive tissue.

5 thoughts on “Atrazine not a carcinogen, study says”

  1. Hmm…applicators? These are the people who wear the hazmat suits? Clearly testing those folks is the same as testing those completely exposed to the chemicals through close living/working conditions or via consumption of atrazine through water. And I would say a nearly 10% cancer rate among those folks who do wear the hazmat suits is a pretty high rate of cancer.

  2. Will this FINALLY put this to rest? NO! The next thing out the EWG will be…”We need more studies!” After all, that is the standard line of all watermelons. I would also like to make this point. Over thirty years ago structural pest control operators (pesticide applicators) were studied to see if their health was different to any degree than the general population; and this was at a time when we used far more liquid pesticides than we do today.

    It was found that the rate of cancer was no greater or less, the rate of still births was no greater or less and the general health of exterminators was no greater or less than the general population. In spite of the fact that it was found that they weighed more and smoked more than the general population. It turned out that they also lived longer than the general population.

    No matter what is said; everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality. In the real world pesticides are a true blessing. It is only in the green fever swamps that what is good for mankind is evil and misanthropy is lauded as Environmental Justice.

  3. Wow, negative results reported? Amazing! I’m watching for flying monkeys and chickens playing trumpets next.

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