Roundup, a popular weed killer, might be linked to liver disease, a new study from the University of California, San Diego has found. A group of patients with liver disease had elevated levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in their urine.
Paul Mills, lead researcher, said that patients who had more severe disease had higher levels of glyphosate excretion. The higher levels of excretion suggest that the patients had increased exposure to glyphosate, presumably through their diet. Mills is the director of UCSD’s Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health.
Until now, the debate over the health effects of glyphosate has been centered on causing cancer.
Mills said he became interested in glyphosate’s effect on the liver after studies showed that mice and rats that were fed the chemical developed fatty liver disease unrelated to alcohol consumption.
To determine whether glyphosate would have the same effect on humans, Mills examined urine samples from 93 patients that were suspected of having fatty liver disease.
As part of the study, liver biopsies and urine samples were taken. Glyphosate residue was much higher in patients with liver disease compared to those with a healthier liver. The higher the levels of glyphosate in the urine, the worse the person’s liver health.
Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in New York, says the UCSD study raises more concerns about the product “and its widespread use globally.”
Glyphosate is now the most widely used herbicide in America. Monsanto developed and patented the weed killer in the 1970s. The product accounts for half of the company’s revenue.
Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, maintains that previous research shows glyphosate to be safe.
“All pesticides, including glyphosate, are tested for their potential to harm liver function in tests that rely on internationally accepted protocols and are conducted according to good laboratory practices,” said Bayer.