Organic food lowers cancer risk


A study of nearly 70,000 French adults who were tracked for an average of 4.5 years found that those who ate the most organic foods were less likely to develop certain kinds of cancer than the people who ate the least. The researchers have an idea about what factors those may be: pesticides. At least three of them — glyphosate, malathion and diazinon — probably cause cancer, and others may be carcinogenic as well, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Gulf News reported.
“Organic products are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventional foods,” they wrote. That’s because the rules farmers must follow in order to use the organic label generally prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides (although pesticides based on natural compounds like hydrogen peroxide and soaps are allowed).
Previous studies have found that pesticide residue is more prevalent on conventionally grown produce than on its organic counterparts. For instance, a report out this year from the European Food Safety Authority found residue from one or more pesticides on 44 per cent of the conventionally produced food samples that were tested. Meanwhile, 6.5 per cent of the organic food samples tested had detectable pesticide residues.
And there’s evidence that those pesticides are metabolised in the body. The urine of people who eat few (if any) organic foods contains higher concentrations of chemicals derived from pesticides than the urine of people who eat organic food regularly.
In the US, more than 9 out of 10 people have measurable amounts of pesticides in their urine or their blood, and these concentrations are known to fall when people switch from conventionally produced foods to organic ones.
Consuming fewer pesticide-related chemicals certainly seems like a good idea. But whether that’s associated with an actual health benefit is unclear. So a team from Inserm, the French equivalent of the US National Institutes of Health, went looking for data.
They focused on people who joined a large, ongoing health and nutrition study starting in 2009. They were questioned about 16 categories of foods — including fruits, vegetables, eggs and wine — and how often they ate organic versions of them. Once a year, they provided health updates, including whether they had been diagnosed with cancer.
For each product, 2 points for were given for “most of the time”, 1 point for “occasionally” and 0 for all other responses. The 16 items therefore had a total organic food score ranging from 0 to 32 points.

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