Lawsuits have been filed by farm-workers who were exposed to Roundup weed-killer and developed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). This blood cancer is not usually curable, but people often survive for many years without symptoms.
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Roundup Lawsuit Filed by Woman with CLL
In 2015, a lawsuit (PDF) was filed by Judy Fitzgerald, a woman with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) who was exposed to Roundup while working at N&O Horticulture Products in New York from 1994 to 1998. On several occasions, she became ill within hours of being exposed to Roundup. She was diagnosed with CLL in October 2012. She is unable to work and moved to Virginia for economic reasons.
The lawsuit was filed on September 22, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York — In Re: Judy Fitzgerald v. Monsanto Co. — Case No. 2:15-cv-05494.
Cancer Experts Link Roundup and Leukemia
In July 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” based on studies linking it to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other blood cancers, including CLL. The IARC is a group of cancer experts in the World Health Organization (WHO). The review was published in The Lancet Oncology.
Does Roundup Accumulate in the Body?
IARC researchers noted that glyphosate has been found in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, proving it can be absorbed by the human body. It is known to accumulate in animal tissues, which is why chickens that eat “Roundup Ready” soy-meal produce eggs that are contaminated by glyphosate.
What Else is in Roundup?
The herbicide glyphosate is not the only ingredient. Roundup also contains POEA, a surfactant chemical that helps glyphosate get into plants — but also humans and animals. POEA is known to be toxic to fish and amphibians.
What is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a blood cancer that occurs when bone marrow produces too many white blood cells called lymphocytes. It is the most common leukemia in adults.
Leukemia cells do not fight infections very well. They survive longer than normal and as they accumulate, they crowd out healthy white blood cells. This can lead to complications like infection, anemia (low red blood cell count), and easy bleeding.
Signs & Symptoms of Leukemia
Chronic leukemia can take a long time to cause symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they tend to be mild at first and get worse slowly. These symptoms may include:
- Easy bruising
- Lump on the neck, armpit, or groin
- Painless enlarged lymph nodes
- Pain or fullness below the ribs (enlarged spleen)
- Unexplained weight-loss
- Night sweats
Tests & Diagnosis for CLL
About 50% of people with CLL are unexpectedly diagnosed after having a blood test for other reasons. Blood tests are usually enough to diagnose CLL, but in some cases a bone marrow biopsy or imaging scans are necessary.
Treatment for Chronic Leukemia
CLL does not always need treatment, especially when it is not causing symptoms. For slow-growing CLL, chemotherapy and radiation are not very effective. Treatment is usually only needed for fast-growing CLL and severe complications. CLL is not usually curable, but over 70% of patients live at least 5 years.
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