To reduce your cancer risk, you know that you should exercise regularly, wear sunscreen, quit smoking, and take advantage of screening tests. The new study proposes another item might be added: try to choose organic foodstuffs over conventional ones.
Fruits and vegetables occupy a big portion of healthy diets which experts say can lower your threat of most cancers.
Consuming more organic foods may help reduce your overall risk of increasing cancer, proposes a recent study. The research involved almost 68,946 French volunteers beginning in 2009.
The members answered queries about the foods they ate and how often they selected organic products over non-organic. In 2016, participants who most regularly ate organic foods, including dairy and meat, had 25 percent rarer cancers than adults who never consumed organic foods.
The researchers resolute that “a larger frequency of organic food eating was linked with a reduced threat of cancer.”
“Although the findings of the research need to be confirmed,” the researchers composed, “encouraging organic food consumption in the population could be a preventive approach against cancer.”
The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Major study limitations
The authors of the study noted some limitations in their work. For instance, those who volunteered for the study were well educated. And also they were more health conscious than the common population. Seventy-eight percent of them were female.
In an explanation published with the research, Harvard experts conveyed a few concerns. Particularly, the researchers did not check levels of pesticide residue of the participants.
They also pointed out that the questionnaire was not authenticated, so it’s difficult to comprehend what was really being measured. Self-reported ingestion of organic products doesn’t certainly interpret into lower pesticide contact.
Dr. Timothy Byun, who is an oncologist with The Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment at St. Joseph Hospital in California. He told that the major asset of the French study is its great sample size. But it is inadequate, due to its dependence on questionnaires.
“There were no blood or urine tests to really measure a person’s exposure to pesticides and relating with organic food intake,” he described. Like the Harvard experts, Byun told that it is unclear if there is a benefit of organic food items for cancer prevention.
The commentary from Harvard states that there are some dietary foods which are recognized to decrease cancer risk.
“I agree with the American Cancer Society recommendation of a healthy food rich in vegetables, fruits, smoking cessation, reduction of processed meat and red meat, alcohol intake moderation, and regular exercise,” said Byun. He considers a Mediterranean type diet or vegetable-based diet is best.
Dietitian Kailey Proctor works with patients at St. Joseph Hospital.
“At the end, I want my patients or those who want to decrease cancer risk, to consume vegetables and fruits,” she said.
“Americans don’t consume adequate, to begin with, so I’d rather people focus on rising how many they are consuming, compared to not ingesting an apple because it is not organic and instead choosing for organic potato chips,” she said.
Understanding produce options
Proctor believed that some fruits and vegetables have more exposure to pesticides than others. She proposes checking the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen. Updated every year, the list contains those vegetables and fruits with the most residues of pesticide.
“This is useful for consumers who want to eat organic but can’t afford to eat all organic produce, dairy, meats, and poultry. For 2018, the top five are nectarines, apples, strawberries, spinach, and grapes,” said Proctor.
EWG also publishes a Clean Fifteen list of vegetables and fruits yearly containing least pesticide residues. Organic foods are usually expensive than non-organic. And often in some areas of the country, fresh produce of any sort is hard to get. In that case, Proctor recommends that frozen vegetables and fruits are just as healthful as garden-fresh.
“Occasionally they have more minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. This is because they are flash-frozen at the top of harvest. So, they maintain their nutrition compared to produce which may be transported across the country,” she clarified. She said that canned fruits and vegetables are also good preferences. It is good to pack fruits in their own juice rather than in thick syrup.
“If you have the way to a farmers market that is a different way to shop for produce. You should know the farmer, how they cultivate crops and upkeep the local economy,” said Proctor. The EWG commends that washing produce completely in cold water can minimize exposure to toxic pesticides.
Making sense of food labels
In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the word “organic” on food labels.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Organic Program is accountable for developing morals for organically produced agricultural foods. The agency makes certain that USDA organic seal foods meet identical standards. But they do not report food security or nutrition.
“The term organic is a federal parameter that crops are not growing with synthetic fertilizers or pesticides,” said Proctor. “In the case of animals, organic means that their living situations are related to their ‘natural behavior’ which contains no hormones or antibiotics,” she continued.
A USDA seal says “Made with organic….,” means that at least 70 percent of ingredients are organic. It does not include salt and water.
However, “Organic” on the seal indicates the product comprises at least 95 percent organic constituents. A “100 percent organic” seal is also present. Another term present on the food packaging is “Natural” but customers have to dig deeper. There are no formal guidelines for word usage on food products. It does not show the food is organic.
“It is a vast marketing word because food companies discern that if they use ‘natural,’ consumers are more persuaded to think the product is better. Foods which comprise vastly processed sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup, can be reflected natural,” said Proctor.
“I meet my patients where they are at in positions of eating conventional or organic produce. I encourage consumers to increase their consumption of vegetables and fruits,” she added.
The bottom line
The trend for organic food is increasing all over the world. As more and more people understand the destructive effects of consuming foods sprayed with insecticides and pesticides. If coming studies offer more firm indication supporting the consumption of organic foods for cancer prevention, trials to lower costs and ensure just access to these products will be vital,” the Harvard authors marked.
“Fears over pesticide dangers should not disappoint conventional fruits and vegetable ingestion,” they recommended. “The interests of consuming conventionally grown food are likely to outweigh the risks from pesticide exposure.”
As almost everyone is aware of the health benefits of eating chemical-free and fresh produce. So eating organic food may help you lower cancer risks!