Could This Weed Killer Increase IBD Risk?

Over the past decade, there has been growing research into the effects of various chemicals, like herbicides or pesticides, on human health. Researchers want to understand how herbicide or pesticide exposure contributes to the development of certain conditions. Most recently, shares an article in Healthline, researchers sought to understand and identify environmental factors that contribute to intestinal inflammation in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

The Research

Studies have found that rates of IBD have been steadily increasing over the years. In this particular study, researchers wanted to focus on environmental data. They sourced information from ToxCast and IBD genetics databases. With this research in hand, the research team then identified a series of chemicals that could potentially cause intestinal inflammation.

Next, researchers evaluated these chemicals on zebrafish models of IBD. They found the top twenty chemicals that seemed to worsen intestinal inflammation. Eleven of these chemicals, including an herbicide called propyzamide, are used in agricultural settings. Propyzamide is an herbicide that people may come into contact with more often on sports fields, as well as fruit and root crops. 

The study findings, published in Nature, explain that the researchers believe that propyzamide could contribute to intestinal inflammation. It may also disrupt immune regulation or cause other health issues. 

It is important to note that the researchers are NOT claiming that propyzamide causes IBD. Although there is a relationship between propyzamide and gut inflammation that could increase the risk of IBD, the authors are not claiming causation. 

In the future, researchers hope to advance their studies in two main ways. First, they hope to pursue further research into the correlation or intersection between IBD and propyzamide. Through this, researchers can also explore other potential risk factors or exposure that could contribute to IBD development. Next, these findings could be used to develop new therapeutic options for patients. 

About Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for a group of disorders characterized by chronic digestive tract inflammation. Underneath the IBD umbrella sits ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. Prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract can cause damage. Treatment is needed to help manage IBD.

Ultimately, doctors believe that IBD is related to some sort of immune malfunction. However, the exact cause is unknown. Risk factors include smoking cigarettes, stress, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication use, early age (before 30), being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and living in an industrialized country.

This is a variable condition; the location and symptom severity differ from patient to patient. Potential symptoms can (but do not always) include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Cramping
  • Colon cancer (complication)
  • Blood clots (complication)
  • Inflammation of the eyes, joints, and skin (complication) 
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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