organic foods decrease your cancer risk

Can eating organic foods decrease your cancer risk?

Diseases, Food

You are probably noticing a lot more organic foods at all types of food markets, and you may wonder if the extra cost is worth it. Organic foods should have less pesticide residue, but does this really make a difference in our health?

Researchers from several French universities recently published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that people who ate lots of organic foods had a lower rate of certain types of cancer.

French organic study

The research involved 68,946 French adults. A large proportion (78%) were women, and the average age was 44.  The researchers asked the volunteers to keep a detailed food diary of everything they ate and drank over a 24-hour period. They recorded their food diary 3 times over a 2-week period. Then the researchers recorded how many of these people developed cancers over the next 4.5 years.

The results

Some people in the study ate no organic foods at all, and others ate lots of organic products. The results showed that the people who ate lots of these foods had an overall 25% lower risk of developing cancer during the 4.5-year period.

Two cancer types reduced with organics

Specifically, two cancer types showed a significant reduction—lymphomas (especially the subtype “non-Hodgkin’s”), and breast cancer that develops in women after menopause. Those who ate the most organics had a 76% lower rate of lymphoma, and a 34% lower rate of developing post-menopausal breast cancer.

One potential criticism of the study was that perhaps the reason that the people who ate the most organic foods had a lower cancer rate is because they are overall more health-conscious. It could be that they, for example, ate less sugar, got checkups more, or exercised more than the never organic group. The researchers used statistical methods to compensate for this effect, but still, it is a possibility.

Pesticides can cause cancer

At least 3 widely used pesticides—glyphosate, malathion and diazinon—have been shown to be carcinogenic. People exposed to high levels, such as some farm workers, have a significantly higher risk of lymphomas. People who eat organic are less exposed to these chemicals, so it makes sense that their cancer risk is reduced.

Should I eat only organics?

It is impractical or impossible for most of us to eat all organic fruits or vegetables. They may be unavailable, or too costly compared with conventional products. But the research suggests that when you can, you should choose that option over the conventional products.

More important than organic or conventional is that you should eat lots of fruits and vegetables, even if they aren’t free of pesticide residue. If you can’t find organic or don’t want to pay the price, don’t be afraid of eating fruits and vegetables. The health benefit is greater than the risk from the pesticides.

Plus, there are ways you can decrease the pesticide residue through proper washing techniques. And, if you cannot find the organic version of certain foods known to have high pesticide residues —such as green peppers and strawberries—it would be wise to minimize their intake. But for most fruits and vegetables, if you don’t buy organic, don’t worry. Wash them well and eat!

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See also in ProcuraMed:

Three hints to lower your exposure to pesticides

10 reasons to eat dark chocolate every day

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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