Saturday, 9 June 2012

Cancer scare debunked

In this morning's routine trawl for items on ragwort. I came across this posting on a discussion on breast cancer.
Some poor sufferers were wondering if years of pulling ragwort had caused their cancers.
This is another example of one of the pernicious rumours that cause me to blog about this subject. I could blog every single day in the summer about something or other that is incorrect that is being said about ragwort.

As regular followers of this blog will know whilst ragwort can be poisonous, much of the fuss about ragwort is made up and the Advertising Standards Authority has forced the removal of false claims from adverts.

I have every genuine sympathy with those poor ladies on that forum. Breast cancer is awful. It killed my grandmother so I do not criticise them for wondering.  The problem is certain people campaigning and promoting their products which causes people to worry unnecessarily.

I covered the ragwort skin absorption myth in another posting some time ago. It is one of the most popular postings on this entire blog according to the logs. So people must be worried about the myth.

That blog entry covers the origin of the myth and its debunking by Esther Hegt  a horse enthusiast and a leading European ragwort expert and  Dr Pieter Pelser, a world authority on ragwort with a PhD on the plant.

Basically it is like this. Ragwort's alkaloids are very poorly absorbed through the skin. If they are they are not in a toxic form and will be filtered out and excreted. The alkaloids only get changed into a toxic form if they pass through the gut after being eaten.
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