Organic diet: scientists have identified what foods reduce cancer risk

Henrietta Brewer
October 26, 2018

"As a result, organic products are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventional foods".

A French study of nearly 70,000 people has determined that higher intake of organic foods is linked to a lower risk of some types of cancer.

The scientists focused on 16 different organic food and beverage products, including fruits and vegetables, soy-based foods, eggs, dairy, grains, meat and fish, among others.

A 2018 study conducted by the Organic Trade Association found that sales of organic foods and goods topped $49.4 billion in 2017, an increase of 6.4 percent over the previous year and more than double the profits of 10 years ago.

People should eat right and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to prevent cancer, Hu said. The organic food score ranged from zero to 32 points.

Among the participants, 1,340 first incident cancer cases were identified during the study's follow-up period. 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). For example, compared to Q1, participants in the highest quartile of organic food consumption (Q4) had a 34% lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer at a HR of 0.66 (95% CI 0.45-0.96, P=0.03).

"Because of their lower exposure to pesticide residues, it can be hypothesised that high organic food consumers may have a lower risk of developing cancer".

"If the findings are confirmed, promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer", the abstract said. "So, anytime people can incorporate more fruits and vegetables, minimize processed food, the better".

And the findings were reportedly the same, even when other factors - such as age, class, and existing health problems - were taken into account. The study also claimed that organic food is associated with lowered risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in patients.

"These factors may may have led to a lower cancer incidence herein than the national estimates, as well as higher levels of organic food consumption in our sample".

"Assessing intake of diet is hard, assessing intake of organic foods is notoriously hard", said Chavarro. They also align with those of another study that showed a negative relationship between eating organic food and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he said.

In the USA, more than 9 out of 10 people have measurable amounts of pesticides in their urine or their blood, and these concentrations are known to fall when people switch from conventionally produced foods to organic ones.

Exposure to pesticides in fruits and vegetables are not only the possible culprits for cancer.

In the end, the study's takeaway, according to Chavarro, is that we should all probably be paying more attention to how much organic food we eat and "we should probably be studying this more".

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