A French study suggests what many of us already believe to be true–those who eat more organic foods may have lower risks of developing cancer.
Several years ago, I was outraged at paper released by the American Academy of Pediatrics that claimed there was no benefit to eating organic food. In fact, the 2012 paper claimed, “In the long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease.”
Now, a new French study makes me hope that the AAP will look more into the benefits of cleaner, pesticide-free foods, as the researchers found that those in their study who ate organic foods had lower chances of developing certain cancers.
Julia Baudry is with the French Institute of Health and Medical Research INSERM in Paris and is the lead study author. She says that while a healthy, nutritious diet is one that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whatever the farming system, the results of their study show that an organic-based diet could add to reduced cancer risk, and could be a promising preventative strategy against cancer.
The research looked at 16 types of organic products. They include: fruits; vegetables; soy-based products; dairy; meat and fish; eggs; grains and legumes; bread and cereals; flour; vegetable oils and condiments; ready-to-eat meals; coffee and tea; wine; cookies, chocolates and other sweets; other foods; and dietary supplements.
Almost 70,000 adults completed questionnaires about their diets on the web, and the researchers scored the participants based on their organic food consumption levels. There were three basic groups of participants–those who ate mostly/all organic, some occasionally organic or no organic, and they were followed for almost five years.
In that time, the participants developed 1340 new cancers, with breast, skin, prostate, colorectal and lymphoma being the most prevalent. The researchers found that in the group of participants who ate mostly or all organic foods, there were fewer cancers, particularly post-menopausal breast cancer and lymphoma. They also found the reduced risk for prostate, skin, colorectal cancers and lymphomas in the group that ate mostly organic.
The study can’t claim causality, but they did find that people who ate mostly organic were more likely to be married, with higher education and income levels, and consumed less red/processed meat and alcohol.
Which makes sense when one looks at the sad way food is priced in America–a processed cheeseburger can cost $1.00 while I just paid $11.95 for a pound and a half of organic grapes for my son.
There are other limitations to the study (for instance, is it the foods themselves that reduce rates or is it the lack of agricultural chemical exposure) that would prevent experts from insisting that organic food was better, all the time. That said, it does take a step in mainstream culture to show that there is quite possibly something about organic food that can make a difference in one’s health, and is worth more investigation when we look at what goes into our food, our bodies, and the bodies of our children.