Eating Organic Foods Linked to Lower Cancer Risk

A large-scale study found a link between eating a diet based on organic food and having a reduced risk of cancer.

Among the environmental risks for cancer, there are growing concerns about exposure to different types of herbicides and pesticides. There are indications toxic effects from these compounds can occur even at low concentrations.

Encouraged by health and environmental concerns, organic food continues to grow rapidly. Organic food is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, and the use of veterinary medications.

The study examined the frequency of organic food consumption of nearly 70,000 French adults collected by an ongoing survey that started in 2009. Researchers followed up with these people at various points in the future.

Participants reported how often they consumed 16 types of organic foods. Researchers then used this to measure an “organic food score” between 0 and 32 points, with higher numbers meaning someone ate more organic food.

There was a large reduction in the risk of cancer among those participants who were high consumers of organic food. Those individuals who ate the most organic food had a 25 percent reduced risk of developing cancer. A 34% and 76% decrease in risk was observed for postmenopausal breast cancer and all lymphomas respectively among frequent organic food consumers compared to consumers with a low organic food consumption frequency.

The authors note the study contains several limitations which mean no conclusions can be reached which definitively connect eating organic food to having a reduced risk of cancer.

In a recent study conducted among a sub-sample of the same population, pesticides in urine were substantially lower the more organic food someone eats.

Organic food is often more expensive and can be inaccessible to some. Thus, there is a risk that findings like these could act as deterrent to fruit and vegetable consumption which is an extremely important source of nutrients.



Photo: “Sunday market in Paris: all organic food” by Richard Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0