Frequently eating organic foods can lower the overall risk of developing cancer, a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests.
Specifically, the study of the diets of nearly 70,000 French adults shows those who primarily eat organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared with those who rarely or never eat organic food.
The study participants were followed for about five years, and divided into three groups: those who never ate organic foods, those who ate them occasionally, and those who ate organic most of the time.
What researchers found, was that in patients who ate mostly organic foods, there were less cancers - specifically post-menopausal breast cancer and lymphoma.
"It has to be born in mind that an overall healthy nutritionally diet (rich in fruit and vegetables etc.), whatever the farming system (organic or conventional), as well as high physical activity are important documented protective factors against certain cancers and other diseases," lead study author Julia Baudry of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research INSERM in Paris told Reuters.
Overall, organic eaters were 25 per cent less likely to develop any cancer, the study found. Risks of skin and breast cancers dropped by a third.
In addition to a reduction in post-menopausal breast cancers and lymphomas, researchers found that those who ate organic foods also had less prostate cancers, skin cancers and colorectal cancers.
If the findings are confirmed, the JAMA researchers said that promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer.
Dr. Dale Shepard, a Cleveland Clinic physician who did not take part in the research, pointed out that people who eat organic foods also have the tendency to eat healthier diets and exercise more, which are also traits that have been associated with reduced cancer risk.
He said eating a heart-healthy diet, whether specifically organic or not, is beneficial for reducing our risk of all cancers.
"In general, we know that healthier diets are better for you when it comes to cancer risk, he said. Anytime people can incorporate more fruits and vegetables and minimise processed foods, the better," he said in a Cleveland Clinic interview.
Dr. Shepard said while more research needs to be done to look at the role that organic food may play in cancer prevention, its important for people to focus on risk factors that are within their control, and eating a healthy diet is something everyone can do.
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