Former NFL Star Merril Hoge Says Roundup Caused His Cancer

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and ex-NFL analyst Merril Hoge is suing Monsanto, the company that makes Roundup. He alleges that exposure to the weed killer caused him to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

TMZ Sports recently obtained a lawsuit in which Hoge alleges that Monsanto knew an ingredient called glyphosate could potentially cause cancer but failed to properly warn him of the risks. Hoge developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2003 but says that he was first exposed to Roundup in 1977 when he was working on a potato farm in Idaho.

Hoge, 54, is not alone in his pursuit of damages. There are more than 11,200 plaintiffs claiming exposure to the chemical (glyphosate) caused cancer or other illnesses, but not all of these claims are specifically related to Roundup. Trace amounts of the chemical have also been found in Cheerios.

Bayer, the company that purchased Monsanto last year, has already lost three court cases to plaintiffs that claimed glyphosate caused cancer. One such case resulted in a couple in California being awarded $2 billion in damages. Although a judge later lowered the amount to $87 million.

Wednesday, Bayer responded to Hoge's lawsuit with a statement to CBS News. The company categorically denied that Roundup caused cancer

"The extensive body of science on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades supports the conclusion that Roundup does not cause NHL.

"At the end of the day, whether you're in the court of law, regulatory agencies or court of public opinion, it's the science that should matter here. And the extensive body of science over 40 years, including the most recent human epidemiology studies, shows that glyphosate-based herbicides are not associated with NHL. Customers who know these products best continue to rely on them. Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them," Bayer said in the statement.

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An environmental group known as Center on Environmental Health released a study this month that found that 11 of 12 families tested positive for glyphosate.

Hoge played eight seasons in the NFL, seven with the Steelers and one with the Bears (1987-1994). He piled up 3,139 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, along with another 13 receiving in his career before ultimately retiring due to head injuries. Hoge also worked at ESPN as an analyst from 1996 until 2017.