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Ten Years of Eating Organic Foods Does Little To Reduce Your Risk of Cancer



organic-logoThere 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.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgBradbury 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

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5 Comments

  1. I will continue to eat organic.

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  2. Is 10 years long enough for this kind of study? My brother had a rare cancer of the thyroid that is believed to be related to his prenatal exposure to radiation from nuclear testing off the coast of Scotland in the late 1950s. He was not diagnosed until he was 17, although he was told he likely developed the cancer while still a fetus. I assume this researcher will revisit this group 10 years from now?

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  3. This is a rather interesting post considering it is Earth Day and organic highly flogged as better

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  4. The American Ped Society does recommend giving infants/children organic if possible. You can find their very thoughtful discussion/position paper on their website.

    Very important to note that there are carcinogens (things that trigger cancer), and procarcinogens (things that help cancer grow). A 10 year study would only be looking at whether cancer grew enough to be detected, it wouldn’t identify initiation or slow growing cancers, and it wouldn’t be enough to detect any changes in cancer growth.

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