The latest study to look at the possible health risks associated with Roundup exposure highlights new concerns about the potential for Roundup’s active ingredient to interfere with microorganisms in the gut and cause severe gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. The study was conducted by researchers from across Europe, in coordination with King’s College London, and released in the journal BioRxiv as a preprint before peer review. Glyphosate is a chemical that has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer in humans, and because of the way the weed killer is designed to work on the biological processes of plants, this new study shows that it may also pose a potential risk to the gut microbiome in humans.
Glyphosate is a powerful herbicide used by landscapers, farmers and homeowners all over the world to kill weeds, grasses and other plants. Glyphosate was first introduced in the United States in 1974 and quickly became one of the most widely used herbicides, used in agricultural and forestry applications, on home lawns and gardens and in industrial areas alike. The weed killer works by inhibiting a specific enzyme pathway, known as the shikimate pathway, which prevents plants from making certain proteins that are necessary for plant growth. It is this mechanism of action that the authors of this new study say can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome, potentially putting those exposed at risk for gastrointestinal disorders and other health problems.
Humans can be exposed to Roundup if they get it on their skin, in their eyes or breathe it in while spraying the weed killer. They can also accidentally swallow Roundup if they eat or smoke after applying it without first washing their hands. What many people who regularly use Roundup around their homes or at work don’t realize is that research dating back decades has shown that humans with frequent or prolonged exposure to Roundup may face an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. This latest study also suggests that Roundup exposure may destroy gut bacteria, possibly putting humans at risk for Crohn’s disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and other disorders.
Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, maintains that the weed killer is safe, since humans and animals don’t use the shikimate pathway in their biological processes the way that plants do. However, many of the microorganisms in their guts do and these microorganisms can potentially be adversely affected by exposure to Roundup. In fact, according to the researchers, this study is the first to demonstrate that “glyphosate inhibits the shikimate pathway in the rate caecum microbiome and is associated with changes in bacterial community structure.” And while the rat gut microbiome is substantially different from that of humans, the researchers anticipate that their findings “will be of relevance for human physiology since the bacterial species inhabiting the human gastrointestinal tract have been found to be sensitive to glyphosate-mediated EPSPS inhibition.”
The researchers involved in this Roundup study tested various formulations of Roundup and pure glyphosate, exposing groups of female rats to levels of the weed killer representing the acceptable daily intake levels established by regulators in Europe and the United States. In doing so, they found that glyphosate inhibited the enzymes in certain microorganisms, more so with Roundup formulations than with pure glyphosate. “This revealed the first biomarker of glyphosate effects on rat gut microbiome,” the researchers noted. “Although more studies will be needed to ascertain if there are health implications arising from glyphosate inhibition of the shikimate pathway in the gut microbiome, our findings can be used in environmental epidemiological studies to understand if glyphosate can have biological effects in human populations.”
In light of mounting research showing that exposure to Roundup can put humans at risk for cancer and other serious medical problems, Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer, are facing a growing number of lawsuits brought on behalf of farmers, agricultural workers and consumers across the country. To date, more than 40,000 lawsuits have been filed against the companies, alleging that they knew for years about the carcinogenic effects of Roundup exposure, yet deliberately withheld this information from the public. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or another severe side effect you believe to be related to Roundup exposure, consult a knowledgeable Roundup injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your possible compensation options.