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A University of Queensland study recently examined the association between exposure to pesticides and kidney dysfunction, including chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury. Using pooled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers found that exposure to the pesticide malathion increased the risk of low kidney function.
Over 41,000 participants contributed data to the cohort study, and calculations of the estimated glomerular filtration rate were used to classify their degree of kidney function. Pesticide exposure was measured via metabolite concentrations in urine samples. Several pesticides (including malathion) were analyzed and compared against the heavy metal cadmium, which is known to be toxic to the kidneys.
After adjusting for variables such as age, gender, and ethnicity, the authors observed that those who were exposed to malathion had a 26% higher risk of kidney dysfunction. A sensitivity analysis that excluded individuals with high blood pressure or diabetes revealed an even higher risk of 32%.
Malathion is an insecticide used largely to control mosquitoes and fruit flies. It can also be found in topical medications for the treatment of head lice. Malathion is the most commonly applied organophosphate pesticide in the United States, and multiple animal and human studies have connected it to nephrotoxicity.
Sources: Pesticide linked to chronic kidney disease. University of Queensland, October 14, 2021. uq.edu.au/news/article/2021/10/pesticide-linked-chronic-kidney-disease.
Wan ET, Darssan D, Karatela S, et al. Association of pesticides and kidney function among adults in the US population 2001-2010. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021; 18(19), 10429. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph181910249.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Winter 2021-22 | Volume 45, Number 4
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