Eating organic food lowers risk of certain cancers, study suggests

Less exposure to chemical pesticides may be key to reduced rates, research indicates

Saturday 27 October 2018 14:29 BST
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Eating organic may reduce risk of cancer, study suggests
Eating organic may reduce risk of cancer, study suggests

Eating organic food could cut the risk of cancer, a new study has found.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer rates were lower among those who more frequently eschewed conventional food, according to researchers from the Centre of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics in Paris who examined data from nearly 70,000 French adults.

The reduced risk may be because those who eat organic are not exposed to the chemical pesticides and medicines which are generally used to treat regular fruit, veg, meat and fish, they suggested.

“Because of their lower exposure to pesticide residues, it can be hypothesised that high organic food consumers may have a lower risk of developing cancer,” said lead author Julia Baudry. "If the findings are confirmed, promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer."

But Dr Baudry admitted that such a diet appeared to have no effect on the risk of contracting bowel or prostate cancer.

The finding – published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal – comes amid rising concern about the health risks of pesticides.

In August American groundsmans DeWayne Johnson, was awarded $250m (£195m) in compensation after a jury found his terminal cancer was probably caused by frequent use of Roundup weed killer.

The new researchers followed 68,946 participants from 2009 to 2016, asking them to report if they got cancer.

Authors divided the subjects up into four groups dependent on how often they ate organic. After factoring in other known potential causes of cancer – including lifestyle factors and family history – they found that those who in the top group were 25 per cent less likely to develop the illness.

Significantly, they were 73 per cent less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21 per cent less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer.

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Even participants who only ate organic as part of an otherwise low-to-medium quality diet were found to experience a reduced risk of cancer, the study indicated.

But Dr Baudry warned of the limitations of the survey.

She said more detailed research would now need to be done with a wider base of subjects from a wider range of social backgrounds.

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