Glyphosate/Round Up Cancer Link

Glyphosate linked to Cancer - Monsanto forced to pay out $298 Million

Well! Did you hear the news?!

Most of us who have been following this area for the past few years are leaping around the room right about now! I can tell you I am! 

Glypo-WHAT?! Glyphosate is the chemical name for Round Up. The popular herbicide used from Cape Reinga to the Bluff (for those outside of New Zealand read "up and down the country"). I don't know about you, but when I was little we were all told that Round Up was so safe you could drink it (proves you should never believe everything we think of as current state-of-the-art understanding). In fact this was the stance up until fairly recently. I still remember the day when Meriel Watts, a complete hero who runs Pesticide Action New Zealand started talking about Glyphosate being a problem. At the time I thought she was going a bit too far. DDT for sure. Glyphosate? Really?  

She was right.  

AdobeStock_121002369 Glyphosate.jpeg

I have to admit that when I heard about the history of Glyphosate I was incredulous. It was first used as a chemical to scour the insides of metal vats. When they tipped the resultant waste water out on the ground... all the plants that it touched died. Those folks who spend their days figuring out how to make money took one look at this and came up with the bright idea of tipping it over plants no one wanted. And they've been doing so ever since. What sort of volumes are we talking? Well in 2015 the US was going through 128,000 tons per year. In 2016, it was the most used herbicide on the planet... ever. Farmers sprayed 2.6 billion pounds on U.S. soils alone between 1992 and 2012. In fact it is so commonly used around the world that the majority of men, women, children and even marine animals now have detectable levels of glyphosate. A 2017 JAMA study(1) showed that of 100 elderly (US) people sampled between 2014-2016, 70% of them had glyphosate in their urine. 

What's that got to do with anything though/who cares? Well increasingly, Glyphosate has been linked with causing cancer, premature birth, and the rash of dysbiosis (gut problems) like IBS and yes, you guessed it, gluten intolerance that we are seeing. Human cells don't have biochemical pathways impacted by Glyphosate, But believe it or not, if you do the maths, we're not made up of a majority of human cells. By number, we're actually somewhere between 50- 90% bacterial cells (they're just way smaller that's why; and scientists are still doing the number crunching). These bacteria make up our microbiome. And these bacteria do have something called the Shiitake pathway which causes them to be damaged by Glyphosate. As a result, Glyphosate doesn't just affect the bacteria in the soil (one of its modes of action), but also the bacteria we have inside of us and which we absolutely need for our guts to function. Any damage to these gut bacteria has been linked to leaky gut and inflammation in the liver. Interestingly, Glyphosate has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; something I and my colleagues have been seeing increasingly; and not just in overweight patients either. Not only that, Glyphosate impacts negatively on DPPIV - an enzyme in the brush boarder of the human gut that is needed to break down gluten (and casein for that matter - gluten and dairy intolerance anyone?) And just as an aside, studies show that 70% of those with Autism have an increase in TNF-a (Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha) on eating gluten or casein. Autism rates have been increasing. It's not by any means strong enough to label as a direct cause but I have to say, it's all very interesting. But back to the plot. Or actually, not.... Just before we go there. How about Glyphosate's effect on testosterone? Low testosterone causes depression, obesity and increased heart disease and diabetes risk, all four conditions making box office records in our society. A 2011 animal model study published in the Journal of Toxicology in Vitro, showed that on exposure to a presumably "non toxic" concentration of 1 ppm of Glyphosate, testosterone concentrations were observed to decrease by 35%. It's quite interesting that testosterone concentrations in men have been dropping around the world.  Lowered testosterone has been documented to occur post concussion. If it's already reduced by an agricultural chemical, this is not going to help those needing to recover from TBI.

One could actually continue this aside for a total of 25+ diseases. But in summary, all of the above health effects have been linked in one paper or another to possibly being due to Glyphosate. Lets just say that there was enough evidence that in 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed Glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen and this was subsequently supported by the World Health Organisation.

Monsanto - who is that? Monsanto is the company which took Glyphosate and created an empire out of selling it by linking it to engineered food products. You see, you can take a soy bean or a corn seed, genetically modify them so that they are resistant to the Glyphosate, spray that chemical from top to bottom of a paddock and Bob's your uncle - the only thing that's left is soy or corn plants. Simple right?  

Wrong. It's not working. The surrounding weeds are now becoming increasingly resistant to Glyphosate and farmers are documenting the increased use of herbicides to keep the weeds under control (result = increased levels of herbicides found in people).

What's really interesting is that Monsanto was bought by a pharmaceutical company; Germany's Bayer AG, for $66 Billion in June of this year. You heard that right. The same company that makes aspirin also now makes toxic chemical sprays which just this week have been judged by a US court of law to have caused the cancer of Lee Johnson, a former school grounds keeper and the court has awarded $US298 million in damages. 

It's an interesting old world that's for sure!

But seriously! Why a blog on Glyphosate from a clinic that runs Brain related therapies?

Well, it turns out that Glyphosate has been directly named as a contributor to post concussion syndrome. 

In a paper titled "Diminished brain resilience syndrome: A modern day neurological pathology of increased susceptibility to mild brain trauma, concussion, and downstream neurodegeneration"(2) Glyphosate is directly discussed as an issue in TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). When the brain is concussed, inflammation occurs. To be able to recover from a concussion the inflammation needs to switch off again as quickly as possible. Anything that causes stress on the bodies antioxidants  and therefore promotes the continuation of inflammation, can literally turn a bump on the head into a life time diagnosis. Glyphosate was directly named in this paper as being such a chemical. Charming right? 

Monsanto (and now presumably Bayer's) position is that Glyphosate is safe. The problem is that the web of life is more delicate, intricate and complex than we realise and the balance that we take for granted may unravel with processes that we at first don't even know we need to be thinking about. Who knew about the microbiome for example? Pretty much nobody 50 years ago. 50 years is just an incredibly short time in the history of humanity. 

I often think about the Romans. Seriously! How could they be so dumb as to kill their society off (in part) by making their water pipes out of lead?

Sound familiar?


So thus I am dancing around the room. 

One day we may live in a world were we don't poison our brains and our children. 

And where we don't have to repeat lessons already learnt from history.
Lets all aim in that direction. 

(1) Mills PJ et al, Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016 JAMA. 2017;318(16):1610-1611. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11726

(2) Morley WA, and Seneff S, Diminished brain resilience syndrome: A modern day neurological pathology of increased susceptibility to mild brain trauma, concussion, and downstream neurodegeneration. Surg Neurol Int 2014; 5: 97

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