Posted on 11th February, 2020
by Legal Staff
In 2019, the ATSDR issued a report nominating glyphosate, the active ingredient in widely used weed-killing formulations like Roundup as a "probable" cancer risk.
This came four years after the IARC included the chemical in their Group 2A category of carcinogens.
Among the cancers glyphosate has been associated with, is multiple myeloma, with a recent toxicological study conducted by a team of Chinese scientists finding that the chemical induces benign monoclonal gammopathy and promotes multiple myeloma progression in mice. Monoclonal gammopathy is by itself not a threat to one's health, and 3 to 4% of the US population over 50 is estimated to be affected. However, each year, some 1 to 2% of these cases advance into multiple myeloma, a form of cancer with some very unpleasant symptoms.
Multiple myeloma affects a type of cells produced by the bone marrow called either lymphocyte, plasma cells or B cells. Their role is to discharge proteins used to combat infections. When sufficient damage to cell DNA is accrued, however, B-cells start producing a malignant protein that can have damaging effects on the body. Furthermore, cancer cells multiply at a faster rate than healthy ones, while also living a lot longer. This leads to crowding out of normal blood cells, greatly reducing their overall numbers.
It is known that exposure to glyphosate can affect B cell function, as the chemical has been positively linked with other diseases that start out in plasma, like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In the Chinese study quoted above, one group of rats had to be entirely euthanized after 72 weeks of oral exposure, as virtually the entire cohort exhibited strong symptoms of blood disorders.
More worrisome still, it is believed that in combination with the surfactant POEA, as it is found in Roundup, glyphosate can represent an even higher toxic risk since the fat-soluble surfactant helps the active ingredient permeate human skin. That's why people who operate small pesticide sprayers without protective overalls are particularly at risk. They tend to be employed in the following occupations:
Men are significantly more likely to develop MM than women and the likelihood of this happening increases with age. There seems to be a strong genetic component, as afro-american people are twice as likely to be affected than whites, and a family history of MM will significantly increase the chances of the disease occurring.
Generally, no symptoms are experienced at its onset, but as the disease progresses patients may suffer:
Additionally, MM can lead to further complications, primarily caused by thinning bones and decreased numbers of blood cells. Eroding bones increases the concentration of calcium in the blood which in turn interferes with kidney function, leading in some cases to kidney failure. Less red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout to tissue will cause symptoms of anemia, and fewer lymphocyte means the body is less able to fight off infections.
In lucky cases, MM can be diagnosed following a routine blood or urine test, and treatment may start after the patient begins to develop symptoms. There are targeted therapy options, with drugs such as bortezomib and carfilzomib that greatly shorten the life of cancer cells. Biological therapy or immunotherapy is used to "teach" the patient's immune system to treat malignant leucocyte as if they were an infection. Chemotherapy is less often used for treating MM than with other forms of cancer and corticosteroids are often employed to reduce inflammation as well as kill off myeloma cells. Bone marrow transplant and X-ray therapy are considered somewhat more extreme options.
The prognosis is given on a case by case basis, taking into account the patient's age, general health level and the stage at which the disease has been discovered. The overall treatment cost is unusually high, even for a blood disease, and can reach close to $200,000 per year.
If your multiple myeloma developed as a result of occupational exposure to glyphosate, there are ways to pursue compensation for your injury.
Herbicide manufacturers actively downplayed the potential health hazard of their product, which means they bare a great degree of responsibility for people not taking adequate protective measures when using glyphosate. Call us today to see if you qualify for compensation.