Pesticides play an important role in the agricultural industry. Whether it's corn, wheat, apples, oranges or leafy greens, crops tend to attract certain pests that, when left unchecked, can significantly reduce yields for farmers. If a farmer doesn't use pesticides, he or she may struggle to prevent pests from devouring their crops. There's new evidence, however, suggesting that exposure to pesticides increases the risk of heart disease.
Researchers Discover Link Between Pesticide Exposure and Heart Disease
According to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Iowa, people who are frequently exposed to high levels of common agricultural pesticides are more likely to develop heart disease than their counterparts who are exposed to pesticides less frequently and at lower levels.
Researchers also found a correlation between pesticide exposure and mortality from all causes. In other words, people who were exposed to high levels of pesticides were more likely to die from all causes than people who were exposed to lower levels of pesticides. With that said, heart disease played the biggest role in pesticide-related mortality.
"In this nationally representative sample of US adults, environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides was associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. Further studies are needed to replicate the findings and determine the underlying mechanisms," wrote the study's authors and researchers.
The Truth About Pesticides
Many people assume that pesticides are safe and, therefore, don't pose any harm to their health or wellness. Unfortunately, this recent study suggests otherwise.
It's estimated that over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year in the United States. Globally, pesticide usage is estimated to be upwards of 6 billion pounds. While there are several different types of pesticides, most of them work by killing or disrupting insects' growth cycle.
Experts are still trying to understand exactly how pesticides affect humans. The general consensus, however, is that exposure to pesticides increases the risk of several diseases, including heart disease as well as cancer.
So, how can you protect yourself from pesticides? When shopping for fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, consider choosing organic varieties. Organic products are typically grown and harvested without the use of synthetic pesticides, making them inherently safer.
Even if you choose organic fruits and vegetables, you should still wash them in the sink before consuming them. Running them under water for just 20 or 30 seconds should rinse off any lingering pesticides if they are present.
You can access the study by visiting the JAMA Internal Medicine journal website here.