Common Use Organophosphate Insecticides Pose a Greater Threat to Women’s Health

March 18, 2021 | A study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology finds chronic (long-term) organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure increases adverse health and cancer risk for U.S. women relative to men. Organophosphorus chemicals have a wide range of biological uses— from insecticides to flame retardants— that make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contributing to ecosystem contamination. Furthermore, while organophosphates have less bioaccumulation potential, residues are consistently present in human and animal blood, urine, tissues, and milk. Although research demonstrates that Ops are highly toxic, there remains an inadequate understanding of how OP exposure impacts the nonagricultural population in the U.S., especially women. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the sex-specific health effects chemical contaminants can produce to mitigate exposure among vulnerable populations. Study researchers note, “Given the higher burden of OP exposure and their significantly higher overall health risk, including cancer, reducing OP exposure in U.S. women needs to be prioritized.” Study results demonstrate that non-smoking women with higher concentrations of OP metabolites are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, bronchitis, asthma, and total cancer, including breast cancer. [Sun, Hongbing et al. Exposure to organophosphorus insecticides and increased risks of health and cancer in U.S. women. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 80:103474, 2020]