Though fruits and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy diet, a new study links pesticide residues on the fresh produce we eat with reduced fertility!
When you’re “eating for two,” what could be healthier, more beneficial, and more wholesome than a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables? Well, it might be high time to re-think that assumption.
A new study hints at the dangers of fruits and veggies, hidden, but right on the surface: pesticide residue.
Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study found that among American women undergoing fertility treatment, eating foods with higher amounts of pesticide residue was correlated with a higher chance of pregnancy loss.
Pesticides are chemicals formulated to protect crops from insects, weeds, rodents, and fungi. In low doses, pesticides have long been thought to be harmless to humans. But the results of this study offer new evidence to support a mounting public concern about toxic chemicals, and the impact of acute and long-term exposure on human health.
The study of pesticide exposure in pregnant women
The researchers followed 325 women undergoing fertility treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The women, all between the ages of 18 to 45, completed an initial survey to determine their height, weight, overall health, the medications and supplements they took, and other factors that could impact the outcome of their pregnancy.
The women self-reported the types of fruits and vegetables they ate during their pregnancy. Using numbers from the Department of Agriculture, the researchers evaluated the amount of pesticide residue the women had consumed, and compared their exposure to their fertility outcomes.
The data categorize some foods, such as onions, avocados, prunes, orange juice, and corn, as low-residue, while other foods were classified as high-residue, such as spinach, peppers, plums, and peaches. Strawberries are particularly high in pesticide residue, according to the Dept. of Agriculture’s report.
A significant increased likelihood of infertility
Women who ate more than 2.2 daily servings of the high-residue foods had an 18% lower probability of getting pregnant than women who ate less than 1 serving each day. They also were 26% less likely to give birth to a live baby.
In other words, eating fresh fruits and vegetables covered in pesticide residue was associated with and poor pregnancy outcomes.
These alarming findings do come with some limitations, however. First, just because the numbers are correlated, does not mean that pesticide residue directly causes fertility issues. More research is needed to understand the apparent association.
Additionally, the study only looked at women who were undergoing fertility treatment. The conclusions of this study cannot be prematurely extrapolated to include all women trying to get pregnant.
And lastly, this study is among the first of its kind, “so it is extremely important that our findings are replicated in other studies,” said Dr. Yu-Han Chiu, first author of the study and research fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health nutrition sciences department.
The harmful effects of pesticide residue on pregnant women and children
It’s important to remember that fruits and vegetables are not inherently harmful, and indeed they are an essential component of a healthy diet.
Still, Chiu says, researchers in the fields of nutrition, public health, and environmental sciences have been concerned for years about the potential harmful effects of pesticide residue consumption on vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and children. “Our study provides evidence that this concern is not unwarranted,” she said.
We can at least glean some good news from this study: women whose diets were low in pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables actually found an increased likelihood of reproductive successes.
Reducing your intake of pesticides can be easier said than done
If you’re not growing them yourself, then getting your hands on pesticide-free fruits can be expensive, as anyone who’s shopped in the organic section of Whole Foods can tell you.
If you can’t afford to buy organic 100% of the time, you can still choose low-residue fruits and veggies using the guidelines produced by the Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program.
The FDA strongly urges consumers to follow safe handling tips, including thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Dr. Phillip Landrigan, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, wrote that the findings “send a warning that our current laissez-faire attitude toward the regulation of pesticides is failing us.” He argues that we need to “recognize the hidden costs of deregulation,” and hold the pesticide manufacturing industry to higher standards of premarket testing and post-market evaluation, similar to the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry.
This is an important issue and I look forward to reading more studies on the effects of pesticides on pregnancy and infertility. Let me know what you think. Thaïs
Read the full article at: www.cnn.com
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