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The Daily Tonic: You’re Probably Eating A Lot of Weedkiller

The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.

Even though we have talked about Roundup a few times in the past, let’s do a quick bullet-point recap to provide some background for today’s piece. 

Roundup is a popular weedkiller with both small-scale residential and large-scale agricultural applications. This stuff is sprayed on lawns and crops. The main ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, a chemical tied to cancer in numerous studies and lawsuits. A recent review of several studies concluded that exposure to glyphosate increased cancer risk by a staggering 41%. 

I’m no statistician (writers are just people who can’t do math), but that seems like a pretty significant increase in cancer risk. 

Over the past few decades, glyphosate has found its way into more of the foods we eat because it is really good at doing its job. Some of the most common crops we grow here in the U.S. have been genetically modified to be glyphosate-resistant, allowing food growers to liberally use the chemical on their fields without any concern for it impacting their yield. 

Those crops are then used as ingredients for our foods, put up on grocery shelves, and just like that, glyphosate has become an unintentional staple of the Standard American Diet (SAD, so sad). 

This brings us to the latest news regarding this cancer-causing chemical. According to a recent analysis just this year, the CDC found glyphosate in 80% of urine samples when testing a group of Americans representative of the U.S. population. Almost a third of the participants were children ages 6-18.

Again, not a math whiz here, but 80% seems a bit jarring. Remember, researchers have said there is a “compelling link” between this chemical and an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

So why is it still perfectly legal to spray our crops with this harmful chemical? That’s a great question we don’t have a great answer for; so we’ll have to dive into that another time. In short, it might have something to do with Monsanto, which is now owned by the pharmaceutical giant Bayer, which has really deep pockets and a ton of influence. 

The key takeaway? The fact that glyphosate from weedkiller was found in 80% of urine samples does not necessarily mean that 80% of Americans have an increased risk of cancer. Based on the CDC report, it is unclear how much glyphosate was in these urine samples and whether those levels of exposure are over the threshold where the increased cancer risk becomes significant. 

It could be that most of that 80% is made up of tiny trace amounts of glyphosate exposure that are relatively harmless. That would be the best-case scenario. 

The best thing you can do? Shop for organic produce, choose non-GMO foods when possible, and avoid processed junk made out of corn, wheat, and soy if you want to limit your exposure to glyphosate.

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