Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is easily the most heavily used agricultural chemical in the U.S., according to a 2016 study in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe. And that’s starting to look like more and more of a problem.
“Roundup is widely used in gardens and commercial spaces, as well as in agriculture,” says Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group. It’s so widely used that it occasionally turns up in drinking water, Lunder says. That’s frightening because, since Roundup first hit the market in 1974, it has been linked to a bevy of health issues.
The latest report ties the chemical to fatty liver disease—at least in animals.
French and U.K. researchers found exposure to even “ultra-low” doses of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) like Roundup caused a spike in liver disease among rats. While there’s no data linking Roundup to liver issues in humans, “this needs to be looked into as a matter of urgency,” says Michael Antoniou, PhD, coauthor of the study and head of the gene expression and therapy group at King’s College London.
Like many of the scientists who have investigated the health impacts of GBHs, Antoniou says it’s tough to pinpoint exactly how the chemical may do its damage. “The mechanism of how the liver disease we observed arises is currently unknown,” he says. “But given the extremely low level of GBH that caused the disease, one plausible mechanism is endocrine disruption.”
Endocrine disrupting chemicals are substances that can throw off your body’s delicate internal balance of hormones in ways that promote disease.
So, what other health issues have researchers linked to Roundup? Keep reading to find out.