Can Eating Organic Prevent Cancer?

Pesticides in fruit and vegetables can cause cancer researchers say

Pesticides in fruit and vegetables can cause cancer researchers say

Frequently eating organic foods can lower the overall risk of developing cancer, a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests.

However, looking at specific sites, "we found that the negative association was the case for all lymphomas, as well as for postmenopausal breast cancer, but we did not find any association with any other cancer sites", Baudry stated.

A team of scientists in France looked at the diets of almost 68,000 people for 4.5 years and found that those who ate primarily organic foods were more likely to ward off certain kinds of cancer than people who rarely, or never, ate organic foods. Of these participants, over three quarters were females and aged in their mid-forties. More than three-quarters of the volunteers were women, in their mid-40s on average. The most common type was breast cancer (459 cases), followed by prostate cancer (180 cases), skin cancer (135 cases), colorectal cancer (99 cases), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (47 cases) and other types of lymphomas (15 cases). It is also unclear how much quantity of organic food should be consumed every day? Four years later, those who consumed the most organic foods were 25 percent less likely to develop cancer.

The organic industry has exploded, with the popularity of stores like Whole Foods.

"Promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer", the authors concluded.

To arrive at the findings, Baudry and her colleagues analysed data from almost 69,000 people taking part in an ongoing French study of the associations between nutrition and health. The decision to eat organic foods has a significant impact since they are more expensive and harder to find.

Chavarro however cautioned that the study results should be interpreted cautiously.

"Assessing intake of diet is hard, assessing intake of organic foods is notoriously hard", said Chavarro.

She added: "The Soil Association's Food for Life programme is normalising healthier menus and organic food for all, changing menus in more than half of primary schools in England, including in the most disadvantaged communities like Tower Hamlets and Oldham". "While these two people may have the same level of biological exposure, they are different in terms of their motivation to eat organic and likely in many other aspects of their health behaviours, which could ultimately explain the observed differences in cancer risk in this study".

He said eating a heart-healthy diet, whether specifically organic or not, is beneficial for reducing our risk of all cancers.

He says he thinks "a main point of the study is that we should probably be paying more attention to this and we should probably study more".

He says the findings are consistent with previous studies which have linked pesticides commonly used on fruit and veges with cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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