In a study that built on previous studies conducted around the world, the researchers looked at 16 people who were part of four different families that were geographically and demographically diverse, coming from cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Oakland and Minneapolis. The participants were tested for a group of selected pesticides and the products they break down to in urine. Tests from independent labs during their six days on a conventional diet showed the presence of 40 different pesticides.
These people were then placed on an all-organic food diet, with the researchers either purchasing the organic versions of everything on the families’ shopping lists and ensuring they ate only those foods or having a licensed chef prepare their meals. Just six days later, their overall pesticide levels had dropped by a remarkable 60.5 percent. It was organophosphates that dropped the most at 70 percent overall, while chlorpyrifos dropped by 61 percent and malathion fell by 95 percent. These three chemicals have been linked to cancer, autism, reduced IQ and learning disabilities. The herbicide 2,4-D fell by 37 percent; this has been linked to problems like liver damage, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and endocrine disruption. The study did not look at glyphosate due to the difficulty involved in analyzing it.
Experts say that the 158 urine samples collected allow for statistical significance despite the relatively small number of participants, and the finding is consistent with previous studies. It’s worth noting that the findings held not only in the adults studied, whose ages ranged from 36 to 52, but also in the children, who were between the ages of 4 and 15. Participants were Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American.
While it’s certainly good news that our bodies are able to excrete these harmful chemicals relatively quickly, most people are exposed to them on such a continuous basis that it is really difficult to give your body a true break from the toxic onslaught. Even small amounts of pesticides are enough to change our hormones, immune system, and brain, and these effects are particularly dangerous in children. On top of that, the mixtures of pesticides that most people are exposed to by the different foods in their diets can cause even greater toxicity, not to mention the cumulative harm that occurs over time.
Previous studies have yielded similar results, but this is one of the first to specifically look at newer classes of pesticides like pyrethroids and neonicotinoids, which were found to drop by 50 and 84 percent respectively after six days on the organic diet. Past studies focused more on organophosphates like chlorpyrifos, which are also quite dangerous.
Diet makes up a significant proportion of most people’s total pesticide exposure, so it’s an important factor to control. These results make it pretty clear that sticking to organic is a decision that can have a really big impact on your health. It might be more expensive, but it’s a good investment into your future health and well-being.
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