Monsanto is facing lawsuits from farm-workers who used the weed-killer Roundup (glyphosate) and developed multiple myeloma. Lawyers say Monsanto is failing to warn about the risk of cancer.
Roundup Multiple Myeloma Lawsuit
One of the first Roundup lawsuits was filed by a farm-worker named Enrique Rubio who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He worked as a vegetable picker from 1986 to 1995 and was exposed to Roundup on farms in Fillmore, California and El Paso, Texas.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on September 22, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California — In RE: Enrique Rubio v. Monsanto — Case No. 2:15-cv-07426.
Monsanto Accused of Downplaying Cancer Risk
Lawyers have filed hundreds of lawsuits against Monsanto for downplaying the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and other types of cancer from Roundup. Monsanto insists that Roundup’s weed-killing chemical glyphosate is safe.
Study Shows Roundup Doubles Risk of Multiple Myeloma
Pesticide workers on farms in Iowa and North Carolina who used Roundup had twice the risk of developing multiple myeloma, according to a study published in 2005. The conclusions were based on data from 54,315 pesticide workers who enrolled in the U.S. Agricultural Health Study.
In January 2015, another study disputed these findings by re-analyzing the same data. The researchers cited several studies that found higher rates of multiple myeloma in farm workers.
What is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma, also known as “plasma-cell myeloma,” is an immune system cancer that starts in white blood cells called plasma cells. These cells are normally found in the bone marrow. They make antibodies that help the body fight off infections.
Risk of Multiple Myeloma
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, approximately 30,280 people in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and it will cause around 12,590 deaths. The overall lifetime risk is about 1 in 143 people (0.7%).
Complications of Myeloma
- Tumors: Myeloma cells grow very quickly and they can create a mass of cells called a plasmacytoma. It is a tumor that usually grows inside a bone.
- Broken Bones: Myeloma cells interfere with the process that repairs bones. Over time, the bones become very weak and brittle.
- Infections: Myeloma cells do not fight infections very well, but they grow uncontrollably and crowd out healthy cells. People with multiple myeloma are more likely to develop severe infections like pneumonia.
- Kidney & Heart Damage: Myeloma cells produce substances that can accumulate in heart tissue and cause congestive heart failure. They can also damage the kidneys or cause kidney failure.
Signs & Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
- Back pain
- Bone fractures
- Bone pain (ribs, back, etc.)
- Congestive heart failure
- High calcium levels
- Kidney disease
- Low blood count
- Urinating excessively
Diagnosis & Treatment
Multiple myeloma is diagnosed when a doctor takes a bone marrow biopsy (bone sample), looks at it under a microscope, and finds cancer cells. Treatment depends on how far the cancer has advanced. Patients who do not have any symptoms may not need treatment immediately. Patients who experience symptoms may need radiation, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy that destroys specific cancer cells.