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Pesticides and cancer

Much of the evidence on the health risk of pesticides comes from studies that look at cancer risk in people who use pesticides in their work – for example, farmers, golf course workers and pesticide manufacturers. The research shows that pesticide exposure in general (as well as exposure to specific pesticides) is linked to several types of cancer such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and prostate, kidney and lung cancers, among others.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classifies a small number of pesticides as known carcinogens and a few others as possible carcinogens. Many of these pesticides are no longer used in Canada.

More research needed

Current research on pesticides doesn’t give us all the information we need:

  • There is only a small amount of research about exposure to pesticides in Canada – information is often from other countries that may have different exposure patterns and types of pesticides.
  • The lack of accurate information about exposure and health outcomes makes it hard to study the link between pesticides and cancer.
  • Changes over time in the types of pesticides available and in their use can make it hard to understand the health risks of products being used today.

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