Neonicotinoids might disrupt hormonal systems in humans, according to a study conducted on April 26, 2018.
Neonicotinoids are currently the most widely used pesticides in the world and these are observed to have harmful effects on honey bees and other insect pollinators. This study indicates that it might have harmful effects on hormonal systems of humans.
The government of Quebec recently decided to strictly regulate the use of certain pesticides, including neonicotinoids, as it is widely used by Quebec farmers to control crop pests. Neonicotinoids act on insects’ nervous systems, killing them by paralysis. As very little research were only done on their effects on human health, Professor Sanderson and Ph.D. student Élyse Caron-Beaudoin took on the challenge of studying its effects on human health.
Caron-Beaudoin, main author of the study said, “Endocrine disrupters are natural or synthetic molecules that can alter hormone function. They affect the synthesis, action, or elimination of natural hormones, which can lead to a wide variety of health effects.”
Researchers have developed methods to test the effect of neonicotinoids on the production of estrogens, essential hormones with several biological functions. By targeting aromatase, a key enzyme in the synthesis of estrogens, they were able to test the impact of three neonicotinoids on breast cancer cells. An increase in aromatase expression and a unique change in the pattern in which aromatase was expressed was found from the results of the study.
This study is the first evidence that shows the effect of neonicotinoids on aromatase gene expression. Further studies will be focused on hormonal disturbance by these pesticides.