Glyphosate Is Causing Fatty Liver Disease

Glyphosate Is Causing Fatty Liver Disease by Dr. Joseph Mercola for Mercola

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, has been making headlines for its potential to cause cancer, but another serious disease has also been linked to this ubiquitous chemical: nonalchoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), particularly the most advanced cases.

Staggering amounts of glyphosate have been applied worldwide in recent decades. Since 1974, for instance, more than 1.6 billion kilograms (or about 3.5 billion pounds) of glyphosate have been used in the U.S. alone, accounting for 19% of its overall usage worldwide.

Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 was applied in the last 10 years1 — a time during which rates of NAFLD also increased.

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As more and more glyphosate has been sprayed on agricultural lands, parks and backyards, entering our food and water supplies, NAFLD rates have trended upward, from a prevalence of 15% in 2005 to 25% in 2010.2 Is there a connection? The answer increasingly appears to be yes.

Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Advanced Liver Disease in Humans

Researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine analyzed urine samples from 93 patients who had been diagnosed with NAFLD.

Those with a more severe form of NAFLD called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, had significantly higher residues of glyphosate in their urine, an association that held true regardless of other factors in liver health, such as body mass index, diabetes status, age or race.3,4

That exposure to glyphosate may lead to more severe forms of liver disease is concerning, since those with NASH are at increased risk of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and higher liver-related and non-liver-related mortality than the general population.5

In a UC San Diego news release, lead study author Paul J. Mills, Ph.D., explained “There have been a handful of studies, all of which we cited in our paper, where animals either were or weren’t fed Roundup or glyphosate directly, and they all point to the same thing: the development of liver pathology. So I naturally thought: ‘Well, could it be exposure to this same herbicide that is driving liver disease in the U.S.?’”6

According to Mills, “The increasing levels [of glyphosate] in people’s urine very much correlates to the consumption of Roundup treated crops into our diet,”7 although he acknowledged that we’re exposed to many synthetic chemicals on a regular basis, and the study only measured one. Still, it’s not the first time glyphosate has been linked to problems with liver health, including NAFLD and NASH.

Animal Studies Show Low-Level Exposure to Roundup Damages the Liver

A number of animal studies have linked glyphosate to liver damage, including one that dates back to 1979, which showed the chemical could disrupt mitochondria in rat livers.8

Glyphosate is also known to trigger the production of reactive oxygen species, leading to oxidative stress. As noted in Scientific Reports, “Elevation in oxidative stress markers is detected in rat liver and kidney after subchronic exposure to GBH [glyphosate-based herbicides] at the United States permitted glyphosate concentration of 700 μg/L in drinking water.”9,10

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