Do you know what chemicals are in your food?
A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE says that methoxychlor, a commercial pesticide banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 2003, could still cause severe damage even today.
According to their reports, being exposed to this pesticide can cause people to spread the chemical to their offspring–causing onset kidney disease, ovarian problems, and even obesity.
Could this simple pesticide be behind our obesity epidemic?
“What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to develop disease, and you will pass this on to your grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures,” says Michael Skinner, a Washington State University professor and founder of the Center for Reproductive Biology at WSU. “Ancestral exposures to methoxychlor over the past 50 years in North American may play a part in today’s increasing rates of obesity and disease.”
In the 1970s, researchers banned a dangerous pesticide called DDT–and in turn, replaced it with methoxychlor, something they believed to be safe. Used on crops and livestock, nearly anyone who ate anything in the U.S. during the 70s and 80s were exposed to this chemical.
Unfortunately, now its effects may be just as bad as DDT.
Here’s how Skinner came across these findings. Using pregnant rats in a lab setting, he exposed the rats to methoxychlor at a rate similar to what people would be exposed to in the environment. Then, while working with other WSU researchers, he tracked the health of these rats as they gave birth, as well as tracking the health of their offspring and their children. In total, three generations of rats were tracked, despite only the first group–the grandparents–being exposed to this chemical.
Unfortunately, it appears these rats didn’t just pass on their genes.
“The pesticide may be affecting how genes are turned on and off in the progeny of an exposed animal, even though its DNA and gene sequences remain unchanged,” say researchers. “In this study the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease observed includes kidney disease, ovary disease and obesity.”
In total, researchers found that 25 percent of the female offspring developed obesity–but that number climbed to 45 percent for males. If that doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, consider that only 4 percent of females and 25 percent of males developed obesity when not exposed to methoxychlor.
What These Results Mean For You
Chances are if your parents or grandparents have been exposed, you’re also carrying these same genes–and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But you can minimize your risk of exposure to other pesticides which can cause further damage, according to health experts.
“Most of us take an immediate negative reaction to mean that something is dangerous,” says Joseph Mercola, a naturopath and founder of Mercola.com. “But few experience any immediate reactions when they’re exposed to a pesticide, which makes them all the more insidious.”
To limit your exposure, Mercola recommends buying organic produce instead, using natural ingredients inside your house to clean or disinfect, and avoiding foods that are the most likely to carry pesticides, such as peaches, apples, and spinach.
Readers: How do you avoid eating pesticides in your food?
5 Ways to Naturally Reduce Children’s Pesticide Exposure – Mercola.com
Study: Exposure to Pesticides May Cause Obesity – PLOSOne.org
Why This Chemical May Cause Ovarian Problems, Obesity, and Kidney Disease – ScienceDaily.com