Pay extra for the expensive organic fruits and vegetables can pay: New research suggests eating them can help you avoid a cancer diagnosis.
People who consumed the most organic foods had a 25% lower cancer risk than those who ate the least, found the study.
Specifically, eating more organically grown foods linked to a 34% reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, a 76% reduced risk for all lymphoma and an 86% reduced risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, said lead researcher Julia Baudry. She is a researcher with research and epidemiology and statistics at the Sorbonne Paris Cite.
"If our results are confirmed, organic food consumption can help prevent cancer," Baudry said, even though the study did not prove that they directly caused cancer risk.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
But people should not stop eating fruit and vegetables if they can not afford more expensive organically grown alternatives.
Filling your diet with fruits and vegetables is known to reduce the risk of chronic disease and cancer, regardless of whether they are organic, says Baudry and other experts.
Mark Guinter, a postdoctoral student with the American Cancer Society, said, "Even more important is that you consume your fruits and vegetables, avoid your red and processed meat and eat whole grains. They are established with cancer, replicated in several populations . "
Guinter added, "If people are interested in changing their diets or buying foods that are known to prevent their cancer risk, there would certainly be opportunities to take rather than just buying organic."
For this study, Baudry and her colleagues analyzed data from almost 69,000 people who participated in an ongoing French study of nutrition and health associations.
Participants filled in questionnaires about their consumption of organic products. These included fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and fish, eggs, bread and other foods.
They also filled out annual questionnaires regarding the state of health, including cases of cancer, and were followed on average for 4.5 years.
The researchers found a link between eating organic food and lower cancer risk, even after taking into account other risk factors for cancer.
"We considered a variety of factors that may be involved in the relationship," said Baudry. "[These included] socio-demographic, socio-economic and lifestyle factors, as well as family history of cancer, or healthier dietary nutrition and food consumption. Control of these factors did not significantly change the results. "
Lower levels of pesticides
Organic foods are grown without pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. Studies have shown that people who eat organic foods have lower levels of pesticide residues in their urine, she noted.
"Exposure to pesticides has been associated with higher cancer risk" in previous studies, said Baudry.
Specifically, Guinter said that this study supports results from a UK study that also found a link between organic food consumption and lower risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"When you see a result that is replicated, you think it's a bit more credible. There is good biological credibility behind it," explained Guinter.
According to Dr. Frank Hu, Nutritionist at Harvard TH Chan Folkhälschhögskolan, animal studies have shown that pesticides can increase DNA damage, which can increase the risk of cancer. Chemicals can also interfere with the endocrine system. Dr Hu is also a leading author of an editorial accompanying the new study.
However, Guinter and Dr. Hu said that there is not enough human evidence yet when it comes to basing some new dietary recommendations.
People should eat properly and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to prevent cancer, said Dr. Hu. Cutting back on alcohol also helps.
"Basically, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, either conventional or organic, can improve overall dietary quality and reduce the risk of chronic disease, including cancer," said Dr. Hu.
The report was published online on October 22, 2018 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
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