Can eating organic food protect against cancer?
Our diet has a big impact on health. Various diseases and even cancer can be avoided through a healthy diet. Researchers have now found that if people eat organically grown products more often, they will be less likely to develop cancer in the following years.
In their current study, the scientists at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale found that the consumption of organically grown products leads to a reduced risk of cancer. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "JAMA Internal Medicine".
Many foods contain pesticide residues
Unfortunately, many foods today are contaminated with pesticides. Consuming such contaminated foods can increase the likelihood of some diseases. The experts from the European Food Safety Authority announced in a report that 44 percent of the conventionally produced foods examined were contaminated by pesticides. In contrast, such contamination in organically grown food only affects 6.5 percent of the products. Because certain pesticides also include carcinogens that have been linked to cancer, researchers wanted to find out whether consuming organic products reduces the risk of cancer.
What are organically grown foods?
Organic food is grown without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers or genetic engineering methods. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. The consumption of such products has been associated with a reduced risk of various cancers. The people who consumed most organic foods had a 25 percent reduced risk of developing cancer compared to people who consumed the least organically grown products. A US study on this topic, for example, found that consumers of organic food had a lower concentration of dialkyl phosphates in the urine. These are considered markers of exposure to pesticides.
Organic food consumers usually live healthier lives
The current study does not show that organic food is the direct cause of the reduced risk of cancer. People who eat more organically grown foods usually have a healthier lifestyle, exercise more and also consume more fruits and vegetables. Of course, the doctors tried to take these factors into account, but an influence on the results cannot be excluded. It is therefore advisable to concentrate on a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and fiber and little processed meat to protect against cancer, say the experts. In addition, you should also pay attention to a healthy body weight, exercise regularly and quit smoking to significantly reduce the risk of cancer.
Questionnaires from 68,946 participants were evaluated
In their current investigation, the experts at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale evaluated the data from questionnaires from a total of 68,946 French people with an average age of 44.2 years. It was also about eating various organic foods. During the ensuing follow-up period of 4.5 years, there were a total of 1,340 diseases from cancer, the authors explain.
Cancer risk was reduced by 25 percent
The risk of developing cancer was 25 percent lower among the people who consumed the most organic food compared to the subjects who consumed the least organically grown products. The difference was most noticeable in lymphomas and especially so-called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - forms of cancer that have occurred much more frequently in recent decades. It cannot be ruled out that environmental influences are the reason for this.
Body weight, exercise and healthy eating protect against cancer
Although there were a large number of participants in the survey who filled out the questionnaires, the exact evaluation of the food consumed is not so easy, since organic food is often consumed together with other foods. This could have led to incorrect results. The influence of organically grown food is therefore not easy to prove. In contrast, the influence of body weight, physical activity and generally consumed healthy food is clearer, which can have a positive effect on the risk of cancer. (as)