New research out of Philadelphia suggests a link between women’s exposure to household insecticides (including roach and mosquito killers) and the autoimmune disorders rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Previous research has shown a link of agricultural pesticides to higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Autoimmune diseases are diseases where the immune system goes haywire and begins to attack the body. Farmers were shown to be a high risk group for this reason.
Women who reported applying insecticides had a higher risk of developing the two autoimmune disorders than women who reported no insecticide use, whether or not they had lived on a farm. Those who used the insecticide the most often and most frequently had double the risk.
“I would recommend that people read the labels and take precautions to minimize their personal exposure. This is the case regardless of whether these results are implicating a chemical that’s on the market now or was before,” said Christine Parks, epidemiologist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, to USA today reporter.
More research will be needed to nail down the direct link between insecticides and autoimmune disease. The researchers examined data from a previous study of almost 77,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79. Their findings were to be released Monday at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual scientific meeting in Philadelphia.
The insecticides implicated in the study include insect killers, such as those designed to eradicate ants, wasps, termites, mosquitoes and roaches. They didn’t include insect repellents.