By now you’ve heard the sad news about actor Adam West, who died earlier this month at the age of 88.
In his signature role as Batman, West worked with other great names — think Eartha Kitt, Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith — to bring the Caped Crusader and his various villainous foes to life.
And while he could always beat The Joker, The Penguin and The Riddler with a “Pow!” or “Smash!” or “Bonk!” on TV, he couldn’t beat leukemia in real life.
We certainly hear a lot about leukemia that hits in childhood, but it’s actually more common — and lethal — in adults.
Ask experts what causes it, and they’ll tell you it’s not really known. Some say it could be triggered by past exposure to chemo or radiation, smoking, family history and certain industrial chemicals such as benzene.
But there are other chemicals that have clearly been connected with certain types of cancer — including the lethal disease that killed West.
And you might not have to go any farther than your own front door to be exposed to them.
We spend billions of dollars and equal amounts of blood, sweat and tears to try and develop better treatments and cures for cancer.
At the same time, we spray our yards, homes, schools, parks, playgrounds and foods with huge amounts of toxic chemicals that can kill a lot more than bugs and weeds on their own — and especially combined.
To really grasp the scope of this risk, you’d have to subscribe to loads of academic publications and spend most of the day reading them. Studies make this connection all the time, yet we only hear about a tiny fraction of them.
For example, if peer-reviewed journals aren’t on your reading list, here are some of the warnings you might have missed:
- The Lancet Oncology reported two years ago that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed the pesticide tetrachlorvinphos as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” But don’t let the word “possibly” make you think that the glass is half full and the chemical is possibly safe. It’s been clearly shown to cause cancer in animals! Although banned in the European Union, you can easily find it in the U.S. in flea and tick sprays and collars for your beloved pets, who can also spread it all around your home.
- The journal Prostate found a “significantly increased” risk of prostate cancer from the bug killer Malathion. IARC, which is part of the World Health Organization, has also stated that the pesticide has caused tumors in laboratory animals, along with damaging DNA and chromosomes, and is “probably carcinogenic” to humans. Despite that, you can stock up on Malathion (to use on your flowers, fruits and veggies) at most hardware and big box stores.
- The official publication of family physicians of Canada, CFP, stated that “most studies” on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia “showed positive associations with pesticide exposure.” And a study in Pediatrics found that kids who live in homes where insecticides are used have an increased risk of developing leukemia or lymphoma.
But nowhere have those cancer links been more carefully studied than in regard to the most widely-used herbicide in the world — glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.
Two years ago, IARC listed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” after an in-depth analysis by an international panel of scientists.
If there ever was a case of too little, too late, however, it would be where glyphosate is concerned. At this point, it’s extensively applied in homes, schools, and farms and liberally sprayed to crops such as genetically-modified corn, canola, soy and sugar beets.
Batman may have battled a rogue’s gallery of terrorizing villains, but put them all together and they don’t hold a candle to how frightening these easy-to-find chemicals are.
The fact that many popular bug and weed killers have been linked to all kinds of cancers, including leukemia, is no longer subject to debate.
It’s obvious that we need to do everything in our power to lower our exposure to them — and doubly so for our pets, kids and grandkids.
“‘Batman’ actor Adam West dies” Joe Sterling, June 11, 2017, CNN, cnn.com