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Pesticides in Foods: How Risky Are They?

by Tatiana Alcazar

May 21, 2021

Pesticides in Our Foods
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According to research, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed onto crops in the US annually. To give some perspective, this is roughly double the mass of the Empire State Building. So, imagine how much pesticide there is in the foods we consume.

The actual amounts of pesticides in foods made from these crops vary. But what is certain is that all of us ingest some quantity of pesticides.

If you are trying to plan a healthy lifestyle for yourself, then you are probably wondering what the dangers of pesticides are, and if you need to limit exposure to them. 

Which is why I will share with you the proven risks of pesticides. Read on to find out what these are so that you make an informed decision on whether to cut out foods that contain pesticides from your diet. 

Why Do Farmers Used Pesticides in Foods? 

Most farmers use pesticides because of several purposes. First, they want to protect their crops from harmful organisms, also to control weeds and diseases. These reasons influence the growth of plants and reduce the quantity of the food being grown. 

However, using pesticides in agriculture may contribute to undesirable damage in the ecosystem. In addition, it may contaminate the soil, water and may be toxic to other organisms such as birds, fish and non-target animals.

Unfortunately, high levels of exposure to pesticides may be more dangerous because these chemicals may cause significant problems to humans.

Link of Cases of Advanced Cancer disease to Pesticides in Foods

Because the liver is the organ that has to process all toxins that enter one’s body, it too can be affected adversely by pesticides. Like any other toxin, the liver has to deal with all pesticides that enter the body, and this can place a burden on it. 

So much so that some pesticides have now been linked to cases of advanced liver disease. Further research on rats has confirmed ultra-low doses of certain pesticides can cause fatty liver disease. 

Pesticides Can Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer

One of the top human health risks associated with pesticides is a higher risk of breast cancer. 

Research has established a direct link between exposure to pesticides and a heightened chance of breast cancer in women.

Furthermore, animal studies have shown that pesticides can directly contribute to the risk of breast cancer. 

The reason for this is that certain types of pesticides interfere with the body’s hormone receptors. This can cause the development of malignant tumors in breast tissue. 

This research has highlighted pesticides as one of the most concerning breast cancer risks because most of us ingest regular doses continually. 

Research Identifies Pesticides as a Contributing Risk Factor for Other Cancers

But what about other cancers? Yup, you guessed it, exposure to pesticides can heighten the chance of other cancers as well. 

Research has found a correlation between pesticides and the incidence of cancers such as kidney cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and ovarian cancer.

The risk is higher for individuals who work with pesticides or expose to it as an environmental pollutant (such as in drinking water).

However, pesticides can accumulate in the body over time by lodging in fat cells. So even if you are ingesting trace amounts from sprayed foods, you might still have a higher risk of developing cancer. 

Some Pesticides Are Hormone Disruptors

This ability of pesticides has earmarked it as one of the most widespread hormone disruptors after plastic.

Besides interfering with the body’s hormone receptors, research has found that pesticides can disrupt the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is responsible for regulating hormones. And this, unfortunately, can have some negative effects on one’s body. 

We used to think that hormones were only responsible for things like fertility. But it turns out that hormones are responsible for a myriad of functions. 

In fact, hormones can affect all kinds of things, such as sleep and bone density. For example, hormonal imbalances can be one of the root causes of low energy. 

Pesticides Can Cause Learning Problems in Children

Children are more vulnerable to pesticide-related health risks than adults. One of the serious impacts that certain pesticides can have on children is an increased chance of learning disabilities, particularly ADHD.

A study done back in 2010 revealed that children who had higher than average levels of organophosphate bi-product residues in their urine were doubly likely to develop ADHD. 

Pesticide exposure has long been associated with learning disabilities, but most of the research concentrated on high-risk cases such as children of farmworkers.

Now there is direct evidence that ingesting “trace” amounts of pesticides from foods poses a serious risk factor for ADHD. 

Pesticides Can Impact the Brain Health of Babies While in the Womb

Not only can pesticides impact children’s mental development, but they can also affect the brains of unborn babies.

Once again organophosphates have been directly linked to brain defects, but this time the implications can be even more serious.

One particular study that monitored the development of the brains of fetuses exposed to high levels of pesticides showed several abnormal developmental patterns in all cases. 

Pesticides Can Compromise Your Immune System

One of the reasons why pesticides can weaken your immune system is that they disrupt the microbiome in your digestive system.

It is now fairly common knowledge that roughly 80% of our immune system is located in our guts. By killing off some of the beneficial probiotic microbes that populate our digestive system, and it protects us from pathogens and viruses, pesticides can weaken our immune defenses. 

If you are trying to boost your immune system then the last thing you want to be doing is eating foods that contain a lot of pesticides. 

Now You Know About the Potential Risks of Pesticides Effects

As you can see, pesticides in foods have a string of serious side effects. They can disrupt your hormones, increase your risk of cancer, and even damage your liver. 

Now that you know about the pesticide associated risks that science has uncovered, you can start taking steps to protect yourself from their negative effects. 

An easy way to avoid pesticides is to eat organic wherever possible.

Another savvy move you can make to protect your body from any harmful effects is to take a liver boosting supplement like milk thistle.  This will help your body flush out pesticide residues. 

Reports have found that over 13% of organic food samples contain trace amounts of pesticides.

And lastly, if you want to stay informed on all the ways to feel and look your best for years to come, then sign up for my newsletter below and join over 5 000 subscribers to stay in the know. 


  1. Alavanja, Michael CR. "Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide." 24 Dec. 2009, NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2946087/
  2. Mesnage, Robin., Renney, George. "Multiomics reveal non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats following chronic exposure to an ultra-low dose of Roundup herbicide."scientific reports, https://www.nature.com/articles/srep39328
  3. Niehoff, Nicole. Nichols, Hazel B. White, Alexandra J. Parks, Christine G. Aloisio, Aimee. & Sandler, Dale P. "Childhood and adolescent pesticide exposure and breast cancer risk." NCBI, 1 May, 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4862358/
  4. Mnif, Wissem., Ibn Hadj Hassine, Aziza., Bouaziz, Aicha. "Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A Review." NCBI, June 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138025/
  5. Klein, Sarah. "Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure." 17 May 2010, Toxic America, http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/index.html
  6. Rauh, Virginia A. Ferera, Frederica P. "Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide." PNAS, 15 May 2012, https://www.pnas.org/content/109/20/7871.full
  7. Mie, Axel., Andersan, Helle Raun. "Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review." NCBI, 27 Oct. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5658984/

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About the author 

Tatiana Alcazar  -  A software engineer, former IBMer, co-founder of Naravis Corporation and a mom, with a passion for finding the solution and root cause to everything that comes across, including health. It has been a long journey since founding Naravis and trying to find solutions to my leaky gut syndrome and pursue natural health. Throughout this journey I have learned an enormous amount of information (acquired knowledge) and I feel it's my duty to share my knowledge and my experience with you.

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