A new study out this week has shoppers wondering whether it’s worth paying more for pesticide-free organic food. The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found those who chose more organically grown foods over 4.5 years had slightly lower rates of cancer, and in particular, lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer. So is this actually legit?
While there is a correlation between eating organic foods and lower rates of cancer, that doesn’t necessarily mean one caused the other. People who choose organic foods are likely to be healthier, wealthier and better educated, all factors known to impact risk of cancer.
As the researchers note, this is the first study of its kind. The findings need to be confirmed in other studies before organic food can be proposed as a preventive strategy against cancer.
Past research has found, however, that higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains – however they’re grown – and lower intakes of processed and red meats can decrease your risk of cancer.
So, if you don’t want to buy organic produce or can’t afford it, it’s fine to buy conventionally grown plant foods, especially if this means you eat more fruit and veg.
How was the research conducted?
This research was part of the French NutriNet-Santé study and included almost 70,000 volunteers who were free of cancer.
At the beginning of the study, each participants’ diet was assessed based on the French nutritional guidelines and their food and drink consumption recorded in three 24-hour snapshots over two weeks.
Two months into the study, the participants were asked to provide specific information about their consumption of 16 categories of organically labelled foods. This included fruits, vegetables, soy-based products, dairy products, meat and fish, and so on.