organic food, organic, cancer prevention, anticancer diet, food is medicine, eat clean

Want to prevent cancer? Look no further than your plate.

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The debate over whether or not to eat organic is sure to bring out some strong feelings no matter who you ask. When choosing organic versus conventionally grown produce at the grocery store shoppers usually look at the produce to see if it looks good, but price also plays a big factor. New research shows eating organic food offers substantial cancer protection.

A recent study published in JAMA found that those who ate organic foods had a 25% reduced risk in developing cancer, especially non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer, when compared with those who rarely ate organic foods.

The study looked at the diets of 68,946 participants (78% female, 22% male) over a five year period and correlated that information with the number of cancer incidences during that time. In particular, researchers were interested in how often participants ate 16 organic products including fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, ready-to-eat meals, supplements, condiments, oils, and other products. 

During the nearly five years of the duration of this study 1,340 cancers were reported; of those, the most frequently reported cancers were: 459 cases of breast cancer, 180 cases of prostate cancer, 135 cases of skin cancer, 99 cases of colorectal cancer and 47 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According to the researchers of the study, those participants who had the greatest intake of organic foods were 25% less likely to develop a cancer. One possible explanation for this is that organic foods are less contaminated (herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides). Less contaminants sprayed on your food means less chemicals that have to be processed by your liver and kidneys. And, more cancer protection.

According to the researchers,

 “In the general population, low-level pesticide exposure is widespread, and the primary route of exposure is diet, especially intake of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. In the United States, more than 90% of the population have detectable pesticides in their urine and blood. Organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides and are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventionally produced, nonorganic foods. Crossover trials have shown that switching from consuming conventionally grown foods to organic foods decreases urinary concentrations of pesticide metabolites, suggesting reduced exposure to pesticides.”

Consuming organic food can be pricey though, but the cleaner food is what we pay all that money for. To have less chemicals on our food. If you’re concerned about the price of organic foods (and they can be triple what conventional products are) then at least make it a point to shop organic for those foods that are the most contaminated according to the Environmental Working Group. Each year EWG puts out an updated list of Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 foods. I have mentioned EWG in previous posts (here and here) because their information is reliable.