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Atrazine’s path to cancer possibly clarified

Scientists have identified a cellular button that the controversial herbicide presses to promote tumor development

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3:55pm, January 21, 2015
Crops

WEEDWACKER  One of the most common herbicides used on crops in the United States may help sow cancer cells.

A controversial weed killer may inadvertently act as a fertilizer for human cancer cells — and scientists are closer to understanding how.

Researchers have pinpointed the cellular pathway that allows the herbicide atrazine to mimic estrogen and fire up cancer cells, according to a study published January 16 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Atrazine, an herbicide that can seep from crop fields and pollute drinking water, is known to disrupt hormone signaling in humans (SN: 2/27/10, p. 18). Exposure to atrazine has been linked to increased rates of ovarian and breast cancer. In 2004, the European Union banned the chemical, but atrazine is widely applied in the United States. 

Scientists have long suspected that atrazine acts as an estrogen doppelgänger in cells. But in a puzzling twist, researchers discovered

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