Organic foods could help prevent cancer, claims new study

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Organic foods could help prevent cancer, claims new study

When they look at specific cancers, they see lower risk of lymphomas, especially non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and breast cancer.

First, the data is observational - it observes an association between higher intake of organic foods and a lower risk of cancer, but can't prove the former directly causes the latter.

"While the study by Baudry has several notable strengths, such as its large sample size, prospective design, and modest loss to follow-up, it also has significant weaknesses, which mandate careful interpretation of the findings", the guest commentary said.

The meaning of the findings, according to researchers, is that a higher frequency of organic food consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

The researchers have an idea about what factors those may be: pesticides.

Pesticides linked to cancer include the weed killer glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, and the organophosphate pesticides malathion and diazinon.

"Organic food standards do not allow the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms and restrict the use of veterinary medications". Meanwhile, 6.5 percent of the organic food samples tested had detectable pesticide residues.

People eat organic for all kinds of reasons.

What's not clear is whether or not this has any health effects.

The NutriNet-Santé study is supported by the French Ministry of Health, French Institute for Health Surveillance, National Institute for Prevention and Health Education, National Institute for Health and Medical Research, National Institute for Agricultural Research, National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, and Paris 13 University.

"Someone who did not to eat organic because of price barriers was considered the same as someone who chose not to eat organic because they didn't care about it", Chavarro said by e-mail. The cohort was followed for seven years to investigate the incidence of cancer. The separation experts take into account the presence in the diet of 16 organic products, including fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, ready meals, vegetable fats, seasonings and food additives. Their average age when they joined the study was 44, and 78 percent of them were women.

Over the past period from 1340 the person was diagnosed with cancer. The most common type was breast cancer (459 cases), followed by prostate cancer (180 cases), skin cancer (135 cases), colorectal cancer (99 cases), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (47 cases) and other types of lymphomas (15 cases).

Each participant was given an organic food score - from 0-32 - based on their responses.

"No associations were observed with other cancer sites".

They were divided into three groups: those who never ate organic foods, people who consumed them occasionally, and those who had organic most of the time. That number grew to more than half when looking at cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Some of these findings were in line with past studies, and some were not.

A team of specialized researchers in France analyzed the diet of more than 65,000 French citizens.

Even participants who ate low-to-medium quality diets yet stuck with organic food experienced a reduced risk of cancer, the authors found.

As in the case of any study, the results may not be 100% accurate.

For instance, no attempt was made to confirm people's claims about the amount of organic food they ate.

Investigators also carried out a sensitivity analysis by including the main determinants of pesticide exposure - namely vegetable products - in the organic food score.

"Overall fruit and vegetable consumption is good for you, organic or not", she said. According to official data, more than 75% of the participants were females in their mid-forties.

For example, an article published in Workplace Health & Safety notes the link between pesticide exposure and developmental issues in children.

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