Paying extra for these expensive organic fruits and vegetables could be worthwhile: new research suggests that eating can help avoid cancer diagnosis.
People who enjoy the most organic foods had a 25% lower risk of cancer, compared to those who had eaten the least, the study found.
More specifically, eating more organic foods was associated with a 34% lower risk for menopausal breast cancer, 76% decreased risk for all lymphomas and a 86% decreased risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, said lead researcher Julia Baudry. He is a scientist with the Center for Research and Epidemiology and Statistics at the Sorbonne Paris Cite.
"If we confirm our findings, ecological nutrition can contribute to cancer prevention," Baudry said, although the study did not prove that they directly caused the cancer risk.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
But people should not stop eating fruits and vegetables if they can not afford more expensive ecologically produced options.
It is known to reduce the risk of chronic disease and cancer, whether ecologically or not, Baudry and other experts have said.
Mark Guinter, a postdoctoral associate with the American Cancer Society, said: "More importantly, to take care of your fruits and vegetables, avoid red and processed meat and eat whole grains. This is the relationship between cancer and more populations."
Guinter added: "If people are interested in changing their diet or buying foods that are known to help prevent the risk of cancer, it would surely have taken place, but not simply for the purchase of organic foods."
For this study, Baudry and her colleagues analyzed the data of almost 69 000 people attending current French studies on nutrition and health links.
The participants filled in questionnaires on their consumption of organic products. These include fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, eggs, bread and other foods.
They also complied with annual questionnaires on their state of health, including cancer cases, and averaged 4.5 years on average.
Researchers found a link between eating organic foods and a lower risk of cancer, also taking into account other cancer risk factors.
"We were considering various factors that could be involved in the relationship," Baudry said. "[These included] socio-demographic, socio-economic and life factors, as well as family history of cancer or a healthier diet in terms of nutrition and food consumption. The monitoring of these factors did not substantially alter the findings. "
Lower level pesticides
Organic foods are grown without pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. Studies have shown that people who eat organically-produced food have lower amounts of pesticide residues in urine, she said.
"Exposure to pesticide has been associated with a higher risk of developing cancer" in previous studies, Baudry said.
Specifically, Guinter said that this study supports the results of a British study, which also identified the link between organic food consumption and a lower risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Whenever you see a result that has recurred so much, it seems a little more probable. It is a good biological credibility behind it," explained Guinter.
According to dr. Frank Huha, president of nutrition at Public Health School Harvard TH Chan, animal studies have shown that pesticides can increase DNA damage, which can increase the risk of developing cancer. Chemicals may also interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system. Dr. Hu is also a senior editor of the editorial board who is following a new study.
But Guinter and Dr. Hu said there was not enough human evidence on which new food recommendations could be based.
People should eat and maintain healthy body weight with diet and exercise to prevent cancer, Hu said. It will also help reduce alcohol.
"In fact, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, either conventional or organic, can improve the overall quality of nutrition and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer," said Dr. Hu.
The report was published online on October 22, 2018 JAMA internal medicine.
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