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Roundup Cancer Risk

Roundup Cancer Risk

Is there a Roundup Cancer Risk? There has been much discussion in the last 5 years as to whether there is a Roundup Cancer Risk. This debate has not crystalised into litigation in the form of the Monsanto Roundup Lawsuits. In the US, more than 30 lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto Co. The lawsuits allege that the company’s weed killer, Roundup, causes cancer.

What is Roundup?

Roundup is a popular grass and weed killer that is manufactured by Monsanto Co. It is one of the most popular herbicides in the market and has been distributed internationally since the 1970s. The manufacturers indicate that the herbicide contains glyphosphate (41%) and other ingredients that aren’t specifically named on the label. However, it is well known that the herbicide contains POEA (polyoxyethylene tallow amine). This is a chemical that is soap-like in nature. It is added to the formulation to help glyphosphate penetrate plants.

Many crops have been genetically engineered to be tolerant of glyphosate. This allows farmers to use glyphosate as a postemergence herbicide against weeds. Roundup is commonly used along with genetically-engineered cotton, soy and corn seeds. These genetically engineered seeds are designed to withstand the effects of the herbicide. This allows farmers to spray their crops with the herbicide without killing them but does it lead to a Roundup Cancer Risk?.

Is round up toxic?

Well it is a herbicide and the point of glyphosate is to kill unwanted plants. Like all chemicals it is toxic to animals (including humans) at some dose.
Researchers have found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. Until now, most health studies focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup.
But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.


One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers called “astonishing” and further enhanced the concern surrounding the Roundup cancer risk.

Is glyphosate a carcinogen?

Recent regulatory decisions in the EU and elsewhere have stated that there is no Roundup cancer risk. However, this can be interpreted as contradicting an earlier report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in March 2015, which concluded that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.

Glyphosphate in food

Whilst Roundup is sprayed on 80% of the crop farms in the US it is also used in gardens. Many of the crops make it to the table and many more are used to feed farm animals that also make it to the table.

Studies have found residues of the chemical in honey, oats, organic eggs, wheat and other foods.

Roundup and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

The WHO issued a Roundup cancer risk warning and other herbicides containing glyphosphate in March 2015, citing that the chemical was carcinogenic. Although there is limited evidence of this in humans, glyphosphate was shown to cause cancer in lab rats.

Roundup is primarily associated with the development of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This is a cancer that begins in the immune systems. It has the potential of spreading to other parts of the body. Several studies have shown high rates of this type of cancer amongst farm-workers exposed to large volumes of Roundup in Canada, the US and Sweden.

Roundup also has been linked to the development of various other types of cancer including Large Diffuse B-cell, cutaneous T-cell and small lymphocytic lymphoma.


In mid-October of 2016, 37 lawsuits against Monsanto that had been filed in courts throughout the US were centralized into a Multi District Litigation proceeding that will be heard in the Northern District of California.

Dr Victoria Handley, Director of Handley Law stated that ‘We await the publication of research associated with this litigation. It will certainly have wide implications if the Court rule in favour of the Claimants in this action. This is litigation to watch closely”.

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