If you’ve heard of the weed killer Roundup, you’ve probably also heard of its link to cancer. But what does that mean, exactly? If you use it once, will you get cancer? What type of cancer might it cause, and what proof is there? This article is meant to answer all of your questions about the link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system.
About the Weed Killer Roundup
Roundup is a popular herbicide, or weed killer, that has been around since the 1970s. Monsanto first sold Roundup for commercial use in 1974; it was intended for large farming operations. Once it became available for residential use at homes and gardens, and with the introduction of “Roundup Ready crops,” which contain glyphosate-tolerant enzymes, Roundup use in the United States increased nearly 16 times over from 1992 to 2009. Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018 and still manufactures and sells Roundup today.
The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, a synthetic pesticide that is particularly effective against broadleaf weeds and grasses. Glyphosate has been registered as a pesticide with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1974.
Glyphosate & Increased Risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. The global glyphosate market is expected to reach $13.31 billion by 2027.
Although Roundup and other glyphosate-containing products are effective at killing weeds, they have been linked to a form of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Glyphosate has been listed on California’s list of cancer-causing chemicals since January 2017, and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer has called it a “probable human carcinogen.” Then there is the matter of the review by University of Washington researchers that found a 41% increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in agricultural professionals exposed to high levels of glyphosate-based herbicides.
What Is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Mayo Clinic defines non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as cancer that starts in the lymph nodes, a crucial part of the body’s immune system. With non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, white blood cells (lymphocytes) begin to grow abnormally and may form tumors throughout the body.
While medical professionals have not identified a single, clear cause of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, some commonly accepted risk factors include medications that suppress the immune system, certain viral or bacterial infections, old age (60 and older), and certain chemicals used to kill weeds and insects.
Some symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
A person who is experiencing persistent symptoms such as the ones listed above should seek medical attention right away. In diagnosing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a doctor may perform a physical exam, blood and/or urine test, an imaging test such as a CT or MRI, lymph node biopsy, bone marrow test, and lumbar puncture. Typically, it starts with a physical exam and additional tests may be ordered accordingly. A diagnosis will also include identifying the subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and therefore the most appropriate treatment.
There is no cure for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but there are various treatment options that can kill the cancer cells and send it into remission. These may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, cell therapy, bone marrow transplant, and immunotherapy. The overall 5-year survival rate for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 72%, according to the American Cancer Society. As with most forms of cancer, treatment is most successful when it is identified early on and with slow-growing lymphomas.
Past Roundup Lawsuits
There are conflicting opinions on Roundup and its link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but approximately 125,000 lawsuits have been filed against Bayer. Most of these cases involve residential Roundup use on gardens and lawns. The company has already paid out about $11 billion in settlements and verdicts amid claims that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that Bayer and Monsanto failed to warn consumers of the risk.
Several Roundup cases have gone to trial with outcomes favoring the plaintiffs. In August 2018, a jury awarded a groundskeeper $289 million, unanimously finding that Monsanto had failed to warn of the potential for glyphosate to cause cancer. The groundskeeper, who worked for a school district in San Francisco, had Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In March 2019, another jury awarded a 70-year-old man more than $80 million after finding that exposure to Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He had been using the weed killer to handle poison oak and weeds on his property for more than a quarter of a century.
In May 2021, a U.S. District Court judge rejected a $2 billion class action proposal from Bayer that would have provided limited compensation for future Roundup lawsuits. Several months after that decision, Bayer announced that it would stop selling glyphosate-containing products to residential consumers starting in 2023.
Could this be part of a bigger plan by Bayer to stop future lawsuits? Considering some have linked glyphosate to cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma presenting 10 to 15 years after exposure, this plan might not be that effective.
Ask a Pennsylvania Roundup Lawsuit Attorney at HHR
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after exposure to Roundup or any glyphosate-containing product, you have the right to speak with an attorney about your legal options. At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, we have been helping clients across Pennsylvania for the past 100 years, handling cases involving serious personal injuries, workers’ compensation and work-related injuries, and more. If you want to learn about the ways we can help with a case involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to Roundup exposure, give us a call at (888) 498-3023. Your consultation is free and confidential.