Latest research says it can pay to eat Organic
Now a new French study that followed 70,000 adults, most of them women, for five years has reported that the most frequent consumers of organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers over all than those who never ate organic. Those who ate the most organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and other foods had a particularly steep drop in the incidence of lymphomas, and a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancers.
This was a surprise
The magnitude of protection surprised the study authors. “We did expect to find a reduction, but the extent of the reduction is quite important,” said Julia Baudry, the study’s lead author and a researcher with the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. She noted the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, but strongly suggests “that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk.”
The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, was paid for entirely by public and government funds.
What do British sources say?
Joanna Lewis, Director of Policy at the Soil Association said: “Healthier diets and organic food should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. The strongest evidence for reducing cancer risk is associated with adopting a healthier diet:
- increasing fruit and veg consumption
- cutting consumption of processed meat, refined carbohydrates and sugar.
- However, this study suggests that reducing exposure to pesticides by making organic food more widely available should be given greater attention in cancer prevention.
Back in France, people who consumed the most organic foods had a 25 percent lower cancer risk compared with those who ate the least, the study found. Specifically, eating more organically grown foods was linked to a 34 percent reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, a 76 percent decreased risk for all lymphomas and an 86 percent reduced risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to Julia Baudry.
“If our findings are confirmed, organic food consumption may contribute to cancer prevention,” Baudry said, though the study did not prove they directly caused cancer risk to drop.
What if you can’t afford organic?
Organic food has come down in price dramatically, but people shouldn’t stop eating fruits and vegetables if organically grown produce is still more expensive. Filling your diet with fruits and vegetables is known to reduce your risk of chronic disease and cancer, regardless of whether or not they’re organic, Baudry and other experts said.
Mark Guinter, a postdoctoral fellow with the American Cancer Society, said, “More importantly than anything is making sure you consume your fruits and vegetables, avoid your red and processed meat, and eat whole grains. Those are established relationships with cancer, replicated in multiple populations.”
For this study, Baudry and her colleagues analysed data from over 68,000 people taking part in an ongoing French study of the associations between nutrition and health.
The participants all filled out questionnaires regarding their consumption of organic products. These included fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and fish, eggs, breads and other foods.
They also filled out annual questionnaires regarding the status of their health, including instances of cancer, and were followed for 4.5 years on average.