Organic Diet and Cancer Risk

Cancer in the U.S.

In 2018, it was estimated that over 1.7 million new cases of cancer would be diagnosed, and over 600,000 would lose their lives to cancer.  In 2016, there were about 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S.; that number is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026. 

In 2017, just under $150 billion was spent on the fight against cancer. Last October, a study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine by a team of French scientists that reported a 25% decrease in overall cancer risk among those who ate relatively high diets of organic food, as compared to those who ate little or no organic diets. 

French Study on Organic Diets 

Organic produce at farmer's market - blog by o2 living organic cold pressed living juiceThe study, conducted by a group of French scientists, was a large, prospective epidemiological study that followed the self-reported diets of 70,000 participants.   

The study followed about 70,000 adults and kept tracking of their self-reported diets, asking about their organic food purchasing and consuming habits. Participants were given an "organic food score" based on their responses to a few questions, such as if they bought organic produce "most of the time," "occasionally" or "never." More can be read about the study methods here.  

Participants were then followed for four years after, and cancer prevalence was recorded. The study found that after these four years there was a 25% reduction in overall cancer prevalence among those with a high intake of organic produce, as opposed to those with moderate or no organic intake. 

It also reported reduced prevalences for breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and all lymphomas. The suspected reason for this sizable decrease in overall cancer risk is the reduction in pesticide exposure through diet among study participants with a high-level of organic food intake. 

If you'd like to learn a little more about the research study and the findings, you can watch this short video. 


Does eating organic help prevent cancer? from Rachel Benbrook on Vimeo.

Why haven't I heard this news yet? 

While the scientists list out the limitations of their study, many criticize the methods and have used these limitations as a way to minimize the findings. Despite the researchers acknowledging their limits and controlling for as many confounding causes/risks for cancer as possible, the study has not gotten much press. Those who want to defend the status-quo of pesticide produce dismiss the results, but a recent opinion article in Environmental Health News discussed the limitations. The author concluded that the weaknesses and limitations of the study did not account for the large reduction in cancer risk that was reported. 

What can I do? 

organic produce shopping
Want to learn more about the benefits of going organic or how you can start eating more organic produce? Read our most recent blog

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