Study: Organic Food May Reduce Cancer Risk

There are many recommendations for ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Health professionals promote exercising, wearing sunscreen, and getting screened regularly as the best ways to limit the chances of developing cancer. Now, they may be able to add eating organic foods to the list.

A new study has found that people who ate the most organic foods were less likely to develop certain kinds of cancer. The study was conducted by a team from Inserm, the French equivalent of the US National Institutes of Health. The study and its results were recently published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study tracked nearly 70,000 French adults for an average of 4.5 years. The researchers focused on people who joined a large, ongoing health and nutrition study starting in 2009. The participants answered questions about 16 categories of foods and how often they ate organic versions of them.

The participants also provided health updates annually, including whether they had been diagnosed with cancer. After taking demographic factors into account, the researchers found that the people who ate organic food most frequently were 25 percent less likely to develop any kind of cancer than the people who ate organic food the least.

It is impossible to say that the organic foods were the reason why instances of cancer declined. The people who ate organic food most often had higher incomes and more education. They were also more likely to exercise and to eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables. Still, the researchers say that the results are significant enough to warrant follow-up studies.

Some are pointing to the overall reduction in pesticide exposure when organic products are a large part of the diet as a contributor to the reduced cancer risk. The rules farmers must follow in order to use the organic label generally prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides. This means that organic products are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventional foods.

A study conducted by the European Food Safety Authority found pesticide residue on 44 percent of the conventionally produced food samples tested and 6.5 percent of the organic food samples tested. It is estimated that over 90 percent of people in the US have measurable amounts of pesticides in their blood or their urine.

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