Report says pesticides not associated with most common cancers

Steve Sharratt
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A sign warning of pesticides spraying.

Pesticides sold and used on P.E.I. are not associated with the four most common cancers in the province, according to a new report released by the Department of Health and Wellness.

And, according to the study, eliminating the use of all pesticides in P.E.I. would have little or no impact on Island disease rates.

“Pesticides used in P.E.I. do not pose a significant public health risk when used according to Health Canada’s usage and safety precaution labeling,” says the report now posted on the department’s website. “The Chief Public Health Office will continue to monitor ongoing research in this area.”

However, the 300 page report also says there is “good evidence” to recommend that pesticides can be a contributing factor to the human health effect under consideration.

RELATED: Cornwall passes pesticide bylaw

The report says there is evidence to suggest a possible connection between exposure to some pesticides and a number of types of cancer, including cancers of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system, particularly non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

However, the report points out that pesticides sold in P.E.I. were not associated with the four most common cancers in the province - lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer.

“Eliminating the use of all pesticides in P.E.I. would have little or no impact on Island disease rates, including cancer rates.”

The report says the annual new cases of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma would likely be decreased by 1.7 per cent for males and 0.4 per cent for females.

By comparison, if all smoking in P.E.I. ceased, annual new cases of Lung Cancer would be decreased by 82 per cent for males and 55 per cent for females.

The report notes that an extremely low to very low reduction in average population for the risk of Parkinson’s disease and melanoma may be achieved by eliminating agricultural pesticide exposure on P.E.I.

The Chief Health Office compiled the findings after reviewing studies published between 2004-2015 from North America, Europe and Japan.


Organizations: Chief Public Health Office, Department of Health and Wellness, Health Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I., North America, Europe Japan

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Recent comments

  • JJ
    December 31, 2015 - 09:53

    It only looked at 4 cancers and we aren't told what studies they relied on and which ones they tossed out - and if those studies are independent or industry funded. But it certainly uses an industry tactic of deflecting the issue and points the finger away from pesticides towards smoking. But beyond just 4 cancers, what about drinking these pesticides that make its way into the drinking waters? What about kids' development and affect of pesticides at low levels that affect the endocrine (hormone) system and learning abilities? Also what hand did industry lobbyists have in this report?

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    December 30, 2015 - 14:04

    Wayne MacKinnon and Ron Kelly have the best comments in this list. All pesticides are poison and dangerous to humans, period. Forget the studies, who paid for them, the pros of this one, the cons of that one. It is all poison, so don't use it. Why can't people get back to basic good sense about these things. Err on the side of caution, or is that rule too far out for consideration.

  • Roger Gordon
    December 29, 2015 - 21:49

    The 4 most common cancers not strongly associated with pesticides? Well how about this? It may not be the most common form of cancer on PEI, but our skin melanoma rates are 50% higher than the national average and have been that way consistently for at least the past 10 years. This little known fact is buried in the report, disguised by averaging. I went over the data from the Canadian cancer society and discovered this. All this sun you may say.How about Saskatchewan, also an agricultural province with a far lower melanoma rate than ours? Maybe it is connected to the fact that at last reporting they used a quarter of the amount of pesticides per acre as we do.

  • Thinker
    December 29, 2015 - 20:48

    Not all pesticides are created equal. Edu ate yourself by reading the MSDS (Matetial Safety Data Sheet) for each of the specific pesticides in question. I am surprised by the defensive tone of this article, and the fact that the article does not say what pesticide/s they are specifically addressing.

  • Sally
    December 29, 2015 - 17:38

    Couldnt agree more with Island Observer! I just wish the Provincial government would do something about these towns banning me from getting my lawn treated , its not right, I have a right to have a professional provide a service with a product that is approved by "Health Canada"

  • Wayne MacKinnon
    December 29, 2015 - 14:43

    Sorry to inform all you folks this report does not accurately assess all the information available to make a truly informed decision about this topic. It focuses on just four common types of cancer; which occur mostly because of a build up of toxins in our bodies after consuming 40 +years of consuming unhealthy food, water, fluoride, mercury filled teeth, and unhealthy food preservatives. But Round Up Ready herbicides and some of the other pesticides used in the potato industry are certainly carcinogenic. If people want to play Russian Roulette with their health and their loved ones health;that's their choice. But the Islanders who choose not to be poisoned, have a right to clean air and potable water. The potato industry is very heavily subsidized by our tax dollars and the potato industry could not survive with out these hand outs. The market for PEI potatoes is very saturated this year, the taxpayers will be paying the growers to dump them back on the fields where they were produced.

    • Gary
      December 29, 2015 - 20:18

      Perhaps you like to outline all the subsidising that the government does for us potato growers ? The $300,000 for disinfection services , is one. But now the 25 people who did that job will be out of that work and likely on a shovel working on hwys for 20 weeks, so where is the savings to the taxpayers of the province?

  • Island Observer
    Island Observer
    December 29, 2015 - 10:56

    This review by the Chief Public Health Office comes to similar conclusions as do the experts at Health Canada. The activists do not accept the review, because it discredits the scare tactics they have been using with us all for several years. Just as all drugs do not have the same mode of action and the same effect, pesticides differ in the pests they aim to control and how they act. Despite this, the activists want us to think all pesticides are the same, and they all kill us. The PEI review distinguishes between the pesticides which have been shown to have an association (not a direct cause) with certain illnesses, but then goes further to see if those pesticides are actually used in PEI. That's one of the reasons for the findings. The other important point is that the cancers that have been associated with pesticides are NOT higher here than in other parts of Canada, so again, a key point. Despite this, the activists will attack the person(s) who did the review, spread rumours of pesticide companies paying for the review, and anything else to discredit the work rather than accepting it and moving on. Why not put that amount of passion into helping people quit smoking, or getting more active, or any of the other true risk factors? Town councils have been tied up with this for a few years now and spent energy responding to the activists (and the normal people who have bought into the hype) while letting other things slip that would have been much more beneficial. It's sad and frustrating.

    • Ron Kelly
      December 29, 2015 - 11:44

      As some one who has played a role in both actively opposing the use of tobacco and in promoting continuing physical activity, I'm disappointed that you seem to assume that those who question the safety of pesticides don't also oppose the use of tobacco while promoting proper physical activity. Can you cite some evidence or source for your belief? As for the study at hand, I wonder how it reaches its conclusions. The first 350 pages or so focus on the meta-analysis showing the links between pesticides and a number of afflictions (not just cancer but other health effects, too). Then it seems to jump to certain contradictory conclusions without showing any of its background research, while using a "straw man" argument to try to refute a claim that was never put forward in the first place. Who, for example, ever said that pesticides were associated with these four cancers, the most common in P.E.I.? Concerns were certainly raised about the dangers related to cancer and other afflictions but I don't believe anyone ever claimed that these four cancers were specifically involved. Can you show where that claim was made? If not, it's sad and frustrating that such an approach would be applied to this very significant public issue. This is what produces a lack of faith and trust in government and encourages the belief that other forces are at play.

  • Ryan
    December 29, 2015 - 10:19

    So keep on spraying those tatties with tons of crap you rubes. Poison yourselves and everybody around you, so you can keep on buying those toys.

    December 29, 2015 - 10:02

    So they really didn't do a study but compiled a report based on other reports from North America, Europe and Japan. Somehow or other, I don't have much faith in this "report".How much input did they have from the potato industry?

  • Louise
    December 29, 2015 - 09:31

    It took them a long time to discover the relationship between lung cancer and smoking also!

    December 29, 2015 - 09:16

    Read the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) then come to your own conclusions. This article sounds more like an ad for the pesticide companies.

  • Louann
    December 29, 2015 - 09:14

    Where is the reference articles and research data to support this good evidence lol The blind leading the blind !

  • Eileen
    December 29, 2015 - 08:17

    The report did say there was a link to prenatal development and pesticides. And don't forget about the impact to bee's, butterflies, bats, etc. And are fish kills are imagination? Shame on you guardian, if you are going to report only part of the story, don't bother.

  • jill
    December 29, 2015 - 08:15

    The crazies are not going to like this story.

    • Louann
      December 29, 2015 - 10:17

      Any educated and informed person would not like this story! Misleading information, not based on research, provided to the ill informed . See you all on the oncology ward in five years folks !!

    • Big D
      December 29, 2015 - 11:02

      I know! They already have their mind made up that "chemicals" are bad (everything except base elements are chemicals). But I bet people won't pay 200% or more for food if half the crops fail or yield is poor each year every year. I have no connection to farming but I am human and I do eat food so I can say if use correctly I have no problem with pesticides and herbicides. Regulate don't ban. But smoking (and no e-cigs aren't safe), drinking to excess every week, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet or fad diets it can't be any of those can it?! How many people are going to get plastered on New Year's Eve? And again the next week and the week after that? Plus ten minute smoke breaks at work every hour? Let's ban all that and let's see the people howl in protest.

  • I Think For Myself
    December 29, 2015 - 07:08

    Brought to you by the makers of DDT and Agent Orange.

    December 29, 2015 - 06:24

    Now will you Rubber Booter's Please stop Whining and let the Dealers sell Scott Weed and Feed so I can apply two bags a year to my Lawn to get rid of all the Weeds and Insects (ants) that have Taken over my Property.