Study Finds Link Between Pesticide Exposure and Rare Blood Cancer Predecessor (MGUS)

January 14, 2021 | Long-term exposure to permethrin and legacy organochlorine pesticides (aldrin, dieldrin, and lindane) increase the risk of developing monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a blood disease that likely precedes multiple myeloma (MM)—a type of blood cancer, according to research in Environmental Health Perspectives. Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, with over eight million people succumbing to the disease every year. Notably, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) predicts new cancer cases to rise by 67.4% in 2030. Although there is a vast amalgamation of research linking cancer risk to genetic and external factors (e.g., cigarette smoke), there is increasing evidence that pesticide exposure augments the risk of developing both common and rare cancers, including MM. Study researchers state, “Our findings provide important insights regarding exposures to specific pesticides that may contribute to the excess of MM among farmers… [T]he continued widespread residential and other use of permethrin and environmental exposure to organochlorine insecticides due to legacy contamination . . . could have important public health implications for exposed individuals in the general population.” [Hofmann, Jonathan et al. Lifetime Pesticide Use and Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance in a Prospective Cohort of Male Farmers. Environmental Health Perspectives. 29(1), 2021.]