People who eat organic 25 per cent less likely to get cancer

People who eat organic 25 per cent less likely to get cancer

According to a groundbreaking study published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal, eating organic foods that are free from pesticides is strongly correlated with a dramatic reduction in the risk of cancer.

In a sample of 68,946 volunteers, self reporting a high organic food score indicative of frequent consumption of organic food (quartile 4 or Q4) was associated with a 25% lower risk of cancer compared with the lowest frequency of organic food consumption (Q1), reported Julia Baudry, PhD, University of Paris, and colleagues.

One of the requirements for a food to be labeled organic in Europe and the U.S.is that it must be produced without the use of most synthetic pesticides. The decision to eat organic foods has a significant impact since they are more expensive and harder to find. There's a previous study from the United Kingdom which also shows a lower risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but in that study you find a higher risk of breast cancer - as opposed to a lower risk of breast cancer - associated with consuming organic foods.

For this study, Baudry and her colleagues analyzed data from almost 69,000 people taking part in an ongoing French study of the associations between nutrition and health.

"It was only a slightly higher risk and that there are more important actions that people can take to make positive changes, [such as] stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight", she said. This was then translated into an organic scorecard, with scores ranging from 0-32, to distinguish frequent and infrequent organic consumers. Other cancers observed included prostate cancer, skin cancer, colorectal cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphomas and lymphomas.

Because of the way the study was conducted, it is impossible to say that the organic foods people ate were the reason why they had fewer cases of cancer. Most of these were breast cancer (459 cases).

"We've known that there is a link between cancer risk and height for quite a long time - the taller someone is, the higher the cancer risk", Georgina Hill from Cancer Research UK told CNN. The French researchers also assumed that the more organic foods a person ate, the lower their exposure to pesticide residue would be.

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"Although our findings need to be confirmed, promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer. So, anytime people can incorporate more fruits and vegetables, minimize processed foods, the better", says Dr. Shepard. France's Center for Research in Epidemiology and Statistics and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health of America claimed this in their research. This revealed that the people who ate organic food most often had higher incomes, more education and higher-status jobs. "Organic food intake is notoriously hard to assess, and its self-report is highly susceptible to confounding by positive health behaviors and socioeconomic factors". Bean sprouts and soy are also good anti-cancer food.

"Organic" is a term used to refer to food items that are less likely to contain pesticide residue.

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

Chavarro called for more in-depth studies to understand the relationship between organic food and cancer prevention better.

He says that while it's hard to say at this point that eating organic is directly associated with a reduction in cancer risk, it's always good to think of ways we can try to prevent cancers, whether it's through more screening or improving our lifestyle habits.

Baudry disclosed support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche.

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