Tuesday, April 22, 2014
There is a widespread belief that conventional use of pesticides, antibiotics and other factors in “industrial” farming may promote the incidence of cancers – a risk that could be avoided by eating “organic”.
According to a paper by Kathryn Bradbury and colleagues, published in the British Journal of Cancer, this may not quite be the case.
The researchers examined prospective data of 620,000 middle-aged UK women on the relationship between the incidence of a variety of cancers and self-reported consumption of organic foods.
Over the 9.3 years of follow-up, there was no relationship between the consumption of organic foods and the incidence of all cancers.
In a subset analyses there was a statistically ‘borderline’ reduction in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a finding that is perhaps more attributable to statistical chance than to any plausible biological hypothesis.
So, while eating “organic” may have a certain “healthfulness” appeal, a lower risk of cancer may not be a notable benefit.
Bradbury KE, Balkwill A, Spencer EA, Roddam AW, Reeves GK, Green J, Key TJ, Beral V, & Pirie K (2014). Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom. British journal of cancer PMID: 24675385