Can Eating Organic Prevent Cancer?

Will eating organic food protect you against cancer? This is a controversial question that scientists attempted to answer in a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Organic foods and beverages are food products that were farmed, raised, or produced by farmers and manufacturers without using artificial or synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides. Some people also expect that food products did not come from genetically modified organisms or GMOs. To know more about how to plant start an organic garden, click here.

The industry of organic food is growing. Just a few decades ago, organic foods non-existent on the shelves of our major supermarkets. Now, they are present in most grocery stores in the country. Organic food products appeal to many consumers because of the assumption that they are healthier than non-organic foods. At first look, this makes sense. With organic food, you are consuming zero to a few chemicals. However, scientists were not convinced.

Of course, researchers are aware that many chemicals found in pesticides are potentially carcinogenic. When people are exposed to a high dose of chemicals, this may eventually lead to cancer. But scientists are yet to truly understand clearly the impact of these chemicals on the likelihood of cancer among people.

In the study mentioned above, scientists have investigated the connection between organic foods and cancer. In particular, they looked into the link of non-Hodgkin lymphoma to previously linked three pesticides — glyphosate, malathion, and diazinon. Using the data from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort, a massively ongoing study that examines the association of different factors to health and nutrition with samples coming from 68,946 adults, the research team collected information on diet, age, sex, occupational status, and educational level of the individuals. The researchers also explored the amount of time spent by these adults being exposed under the sun exposure. They also looked at their use of dietary supplements, marital status, monthly income, weight, height, general health, and lifestyle. The researchers also surveyed the participants about how often they eat food that came from 16 different groups of organic produce. The participants were also asked to create a 24-hour food survey for 3 randomly selected days. Lastly, the participants were monitored for an average of 4.5 years.

During the course of the study, 1,340 out of the more than 68,000 participants were diagnosed with some form of cancer.

The study revealed that people who were eating the most organic produce were 25% less likely to be diagnosed with cancer as compared to people who eat non-organic foods.

At first glance, the study was confirmed that organic foods will less likely cause cancer in people. However, the scientists admitted that evaluating the impact of any type of food on people’s health extremely difficult; more so with assessing the effects of organic food.

The researchers opined that attribution of a decrease in risk from cancer with organic food is a stretch since there are many factors at play with regard to cancer. They pointed out that the people who knowingly avoid non-organic foods are more likely to follow an active and healthy lifestyle. These traits, they said, all contribute to overall well-being and decreased risk in cancer.

This is further supported by the results of the study which showed that the people who eat mostly organic food are very likely to have more physical activities, less likely to smoke cigarettes, have higher incomes, and are more likely to consciously practice some kind of healthful diet. So overall, a person who chooses to eat organic foods are most likely to live a healthy lifestyle that consequently lowers their risk for cancer.

So yes, in many ways, eating organic food is healthy for you. But eating organic food alone does not make for a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is one that combines a balanced diet, a clean and pollution-free environment, a stress-free life, and lots of physical activities. All of these, together with choosing to eat organic food, contribute to the overall well-being of individuals.