Does organic eating really reduce the risk of cancer by 25%?

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Large consumers of organic products would have a 76% lower risk of developing lymphoma ( . This new work is thus the first to attempt to quantify the risk of cancer based on exposure to JAMA International Medicine . The Sorbonne Paris Cité Center for Research in Epidemiology and Statistics, to whom we owe the study, is made up of members of INRA and INSERM but also of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (Cnam) and the University Paris XIII. Difficult to quantify cancer risk based on diet We are consuming more and more organic products. Their consumption in France thus jumped by 14% in the first half of 2017. The major challenge of organic consumption is health: bio is attributed to better nutritional quality of food and less pesticide contamination. Indeed, products from organic farming, including cereals, contain 4 times less pesticides than those from conventional agriculture, . In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ranked 3 pesticides commonly used in agriculture – glyphosate, malathion and diazinon – as carcinogens for humans, but only on the basis of the results of exposure studies. professional (mainly farmers) in humans and animal laboratories. For farmers, for example, malathion is associated with prostate cancer, diazinon with lung cancer, and all 3 pesticides are individually linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But what about exposure through food? In the United States, more than 90% of the population has detectable pesticides in their urine and blood, say Harvard experts who wrote JAMA Internal Medicine . However, only one study showed a relationship between the frequency of organic food consumption and the risk of cancer, reporting a 21% lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when eating organic. Problem: she only assessed the consumption of organic foods with a basic question. However, several studies have shown that organic consumers tend to have a better lifestyle and a higher standard of living, factors that reduce the risk of contracting cancer and therefore need to be taken into account. Largest consumers of bio are less likely to develop breast cancer or lymphoma The researchers therefore looked at the 68,946 participants in the French NutriNet-Santé cohort, which they classified according to their self-reported consumption of 16 groups of biological products (most of the time, occasionally or never), and then followed them. for an average of 5 years. To make the study as robust as possible, the questionnaire included information on lifestyle, health status, physical activity, smoking status or diet. The results are clear: the largest consumers of organic foods had 25% fewer risks of cancer in the 5 years of follow-up, compared to those who consumed the least. But not on all cancers. Thus, only breast cancer in postmenopausal women (-34% risk) and lymphoma (-76% risk) showed a difference, while the trend was not significant for other types of cancer. However, the questionnaires are still perfectible, and several limits were noted in the expert commentary published in the same magazine as the article. These observations include the lack of effective measurement of pesticide exposure among or without organic foods, or less attention to lifestyle factors in non-organic consumers. ” Although the study has tried to account for known risk factors in the statistical analysis, a residual bias is still likely, ” says Pr Tom Sanders, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, . He therefore finds it difficult to attribute with certainty the difference in risk observed for cancers to organic food alone or to overall lifestyle. ” In addition, the number of cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was low compared to the most common causes of cancer, ” he says. He thus considers ” exaggerated ” the conclusion that the promotion of organic food to the population could be a promising cancer prevention strategy. Better to eat “conventional” fruits and vegetables than too few fruits and vegetables While the link between cancer risk and organic food consumption remains controversial, there is, in contrast, “convincing evidence that improvements in other factors, such as body weight, physical activity, and diet, can reduce the risk of cancer, “write Harvard experts. They recall the recommendations of the American Cancer Society to limit red and processed meat and added sugars, replace refined cereals with whole grains …. and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, ” whether conventional or organic, ” the authors add. According to them, the benefits of consuming conventionally grown products ” probably outweigh ” the potential risks of pesticide exposure .

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