Dr. Wesley Williams – your sweet, playful book boyfriend, is preventing cancer and wooing his soulmate and his storyline is based on real science.
Dr. Wesley Williams is the kind of guy you love to love. He’s thoughtful, sweet, funny, sexy, and strong. Yes, the man has his flaws. But overall, he is someone with integrity and character. Because his chief concern is the well-being of others, Wesley became an epidemiologist. You might think of him as a disease detective, rooting out the toxins in our homes and workspaces that cause deadly illnesses.
Doctor Wesley Williams is the hero in my new glacier-melting romance, HAVEN: Love & Disaster Trilogy book 1.
The idea for Wesley’s career was inspired by a lot of research, including an interview I read with epidemiologist, Dr. Nicole Deziel. Dr. Deziel is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at Yale School of Public Health.
You can read the full interview at https://www.yalecancercenter.org/YCCANew%20Transcript%202015-Deziel_240555_5_v1.pdf
What she said about the relationship between an herbicide and cancer inspired the research project that Wesley works on in my book. Here’s that part of the interview with Dr. Deziel: “We can be exposed to pesticides from our use in and around our home… We can be exposed if we live in rural areas and we live near farmlands where pesticides are applied. And pesticides do not stay where they are applied; they drift either through winds, they are carried on particles into homes, far from where they were applied, and then there are also some people that work with pesticides. There has been a lot of work done with the agricultural health study, which is a joint effort by the National Cancer Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences to look at farmers, who in general tend to be quite healthy. They do not have high rates of smoking. They are doing lots of physical labor. Yet, they do have higher rates of certain types of cancer, so maybe it is the pesticides. Also, we have the exposure from the food supply… The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified Glyphosate, which is a very popular herbicide used in the product Roundup, as a probable human carcinogen.”
+Note: Glyphosate is the stuff you spray in your driveway when you have weeds. It is also used widely in FARMING on corn and soybeans.
“There are many ways we can be exposed to these various pesticides. Also, pesticides are really a very heterogeneous group. They comprise lots of different chemical structures, have different properties, behave differently. By nature, they are designed to be toxic. They are designed to kill things, either insects or weeds, but that does not necessarily mean they cause cancer, so it is important to do the work to see if they actually are associated with increased risks of cancer.
There are other health risks associated with pesticides, as Dr. Deziel shares:
“I have worked on studies looking at pesticide exposure and childhood leukemia. For example, with the National Cancer Institute— and there again, I have this exposure bent— how can we best measure exposure? So there are many studies and several meta-analyses which summarize research on a given topic. “
What is a meta-analysis? As an author pretending to be an epidemiologist while writing Wesley’s scenes, I had to find out. Through a web search, I discovered studies in which scientists look at the findings from several studies and compile the data, then assess all the information to come to conclusions. I discovered meta-analyses of the levels of Glyphosate in urine. I used this information to inform some of Wesley’s thoughts and work activities. You can read more about those studies here:
Glyphosate in urine: Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016
Urinary Pesticide Concentrations Among Children, Mothers and Fathers Living in Farm and Non-Farm Households in Iowa
Here’s how Dr. Deziel describes her work with meta-analysis:
“There have been several recent meta-analyses that have looked at pesticide exposure and childhood leukemia and found a clear association between the exposure and the disease. Now, most of these studies rely on parental self-report of pesticide use, again asking people questions about the types of pesticides or if they use pesticides in and around the home. So, I recently published a study looking at how well does that correlate, this parental reporting of pesticide use, with what is actually measured in the dust in people’s homes. …We found very good associations between what parents said they use and what we could measure in the dust. Two important aspects from the study we found are that if you ask people, ‘Do you use glyphosate?’, people are not going to be able to report that. But if you can ask very specific questions,’ Did you treat for weeds?’ or ‘Did you treat your pet for fleas or ticks?’… Those types of specific questions were associated with the types of pesticides that would be present in those types of products.”