Study Links Organic Food to Reduced Cancer Risk

News articles have reported there may be a way to reduce your risk of developing cancer. A study in France found that individuals who commonly ate organic foods had a lower risk of developing cancer and specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer.

CNN states that the study offers a “possible explanation” for the relationship between organic food and cancer risk stems from the reduction of contaminants during the growing phase.

To gain a better understanding of this study, we collaborated with Dr. Ruth MacDonald at Iowa State University.

Should people be concerned about eating non-organic food?

Dr. MacDonald: “Commercially grown foods are safe and consumers should not be concerned about eating non-organic foods. The pesticides used in commercial foods are tested for safety by the FDA and must be used within specific guidelines by growers. The FDA records pesticide residues in the food supply regularly through the FDA Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program and these reports are available on the FDA website. For the great majority of foods, the amount of chemical residue is magnitudes lower than the established safety levels.”

What your thoughts or takeaways on this study?

Dr. MacDonald: “The study was a survey of 70,000 people living in France who were asked to record their food intake and then to provide information about whether they typically consumed organic foods. The participants were followed for four and a half years and any cases of cancer that occurred during that time were recorded. They study found that the overall cancer risk was 25% lower in people who reported the highest consumption of organic foods. Whereas this is a well-designed study, several aspects limit the ability to make generalizations about the role of organic food specifically in preventing cancer. Further research is needed to determine.”

The researchers pointed out this is one study and the research findings are absolute. “At the current stage of research, the relationship between organic food consumption and cancer risk is still unclear,” Dr. Jorge E. Chavarro and his colleague wrote in the commentary.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, Dr. MacDonald said that the most important aspect is to consume a wide variety of foods that meet the nutritional needs at each stage of life.

“Both commercially produced and organic foods can be part of a healthy diet,” said MacDonald. “A product that is labeled organic might not be the healthiest choice if it is high in calories and low in nutrients. It is always best to read the nutrition facts panel to determine the healthfulness of a food product and not to just rely on words such as organic or natural.”

Both organic and commercially produced foods are safe to eat. Whatever you choose, it is important to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet to lead a healthy life. If your fruits and vegetables are organic or not, always wash your fresh produce before consuming it.