Eating Organic Foods Can Help Cut Cancer Risk, New Study Finds

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In such a situation, it is natural to have more awareness of organic food than in general.

The authors describe the lower exposure to pesticides that have been classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the WHO's International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) as the most likely explanation for the lower cancer rates among organic food consumers.

For the study, a team of French scientists, led by epidemiologist Julia Baudry, tracked the diets of 68,946 French adults, more than three-quarters of which were women.

Baudry is a researcher at the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

New cancer study looks at value of organic food consumption. They did collect information on why people were not consuming organic food, but they didn't try to separate whether the effects are the same if you're not eating organic foods because you don't care or because you can not afford it.

While the link between cancer risk and organic food intake is still uncertain, the commentary said there is compelling evidence that improving other factors, such as body weight, physical activity, and diet, can lower cancer risk.

"Most people, including myself (a professor of disease prevention), would not be able to accurately tell whether I eat organic food and how much/how frequently", Ioannidis said. "Those are established relationships with cancer, replicated in multiple populations".

It is effectively impossible to prove beyond a doubt in a laboratory that any given food reduces the risk of developing an illness as complex as cancer.

The researchers used data from the NutriNet-Santé study to examine the eating habits of almost 70,000 French adults. These included fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and fish, eggs, breads and other foods.

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High organic food scores were inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer being 25 per cent less for those of the top quartile compared to the bottom.

And the findings were reportedly the same, even when other factors - such as age, class, and existing health problems - were taken into account.

Meanwhile, 6.5 percent of the organic food samples tested had detectable pesticide residues.

"The main obstacle to purchasing organic food are high prices", say the authors of the study.

"Exposure to pesticide has been associated with higher cancer risk" in previous studies, Baudry said. "There's good biologic plausibility behind it", Guinter explained.

"It can be hypothesised that obese individuals with metabolic disorders may be more sensitive to potential chemical disruptors, such as pesticides".

But, Guinter and Hu said, there's not enough human evidence yet upon which to base any new dietary recommendations. Cutting back on alcohol also will help.

The report was published online October 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

But she noted that the increase in risk of developing cancer is small compared to the effects that lifestyle changes can have.

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