Organic Foods Lower Your Cancer Risk, Study Finds


Highlights of History

More than 68,000 French adults participated in the study

Those who ate the most organic foods were 25% less likely to develop cancer


You can protect yourself from cancer by eating organic, a new study suggests. Those who ate organic foods frequently reduced their overall risk of developing cancer, a study published Monday in JAMA’s findings in internal medicine. Specifically, those who ate mostly organic foods were more likely to avoid non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who rarely or never ate organic foods.

Led by Julia Baudry, epidemiologist at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France, a team of researchers examined the diets of 68,946 French adults. More than three-quarters of the volunteers were women, in their mid-forties on average. These volunteers were classified into four groups based on how often they reported consuming 16 organic products, including fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, prepared meals, vegetable oils and condiments, and food supplements. and other products.

Follow-up time varied for each participant but lasted just over four and a half years on average, and during that time study volunteers developed a total of 1,340 cancers. Breast cancer (459) was the most common, followed by prostate cancer (180), skin cancer (135), colorectal cancer (99) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (47).

By comparing participants’ organic food scores with cancer cases, the researchers calculated a negative relationship between high scores (eating the most organic foods) and overall cancer risk. Those who ate the most organic foods were 25% less likely to develop cancer. Specifically, they were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop postmenopausal breast cancer.

Even participants who ate low to medium quality diets while sticking to organic foods had a reduced risk of cancer, the authors found.

The authors theorize that a “possible explanation” for the negative relationship between organic foods and cancer risk stems from the “significant” reduction in contamination that occurs when conventional foods are replaced with organic foods.

“If the results are confirmed, promoting the consumption of organic foods in the general population could be a promising cancer prevention strategy,” Baudry and colleagues concluded.

Dr Jorge E. Chavarro, an associate professor in the nutrition department at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said in a podcast that the new study is “incredibly important.” He co-wrote a remark published with the study.

Most people who are not employed in agriculture are exposed to pesticide residues through food, said Chavarro, who was not involved in the study.

The new results are consistent with those of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, who discovered that pesticides are carcinogenic in humans, noted Chavarro. They also align with those of another to study which has shown a negative relationship between consumption of organic foods and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he said.

However, Chavarro added that researchers designing future studies should be aware of some limitations of this new study.

“Assessing dietary intake is difficult, assessing intake of organic food is notoriously difficult,” said Chavarro. “This is because deciding whether to eat organic food or not is a decision that has very strong social and economic determinants. While the authors have had access to information on why people choose not to eat organic food, they view all non-organic food consumers in the same way.

For example, people who choose not to eat organic when they have the means to do so might have a poor attitude towards their health in general and this would likely influence the results.

Chavarro also said it’s not clear whether quantifying organic food consumption actually calculates what the study authors want to measure: reduced exposure to pesticide residues through diet.

It is true that Previous search, one of which Chavarro’s own studies, showed a correlation between the consumption of organic foods and the levels of pesticides in the urine, so the hypothesis is not incorrect. It is still necessary that the authors show it, he said in the podcast on the study. And, different conventional foods are “dirtier” (contaminated with pesticides) than others, he said, Thus, eating certain organic foods protects us better against the ingestion of pesticides than others. Still, the study does not do a good job of sorting out and evaluating these differences, he noted.

“At the current stage of research, the relationship between consumption of organic foods and cancer risk is still unclear,” Chavarro and his co-authors wrote in the commentary.

Ultimately, the takeaway from the study, according to Chavarro, is that we should all probably be paying more attention to the amount of organic food we eat and “we should probably study this more.”


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