By CHRISTINA CHIN
PENANG: Pregnant women exposed to common household pesticides are putting their unborn babies at risk of developing breast cancer later on in life.
Even the slightest exposure to chemicals used in gardening and on insects and mosquitoes could cause dormant cancer cells to develop, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia Pacific scientist and PAN Aotearoa/New Zealand coordinator Dr Meriel Watts said at the PAN 25th Anniversary Conference.
Watts, who launched her book Pesticides and Breast Cancer: A Wake Up Call at the event Friday, said the book, which was a collation of scientific evidence spanning more than 30 years, provided compelling argument for preventing the exposure of women and girls to many of today’s commonly used pesticides.
"The book takes a very comprehensive look at 98 pesticides—including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides with the potential to cause breast cancer.
"One of the critical aspects is to see if these pesticides promote breast cancer cell growth especially at the foetal stage.
"Breast cancer is by far the most common cause of cancer in women throughout the world. The disease is also escalating in the Asia Pacific region. It is time for systemic change in our attitude to pesticides," she said, adding that the book which took three years to complete, was aimed at creating greater awareness about the dangers of pesticides not just for women who work in the fields, but also for expecting mothers and young girls.