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Organic Food Slashes Cancer Risk

A new study of almost 69,000 people finds a significant reduction in the risk of developing cancer among people who eat an organic diet. Lymphomas, the cancers commonly found in people with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), were reduced by a whopping 76%. The risk reduction is 86% for Non-Hodgkins lymphomas. Overall cancer risk was reduced by 25% when compared to people who never consume organic foods.

The study gathered data from 68, 946 French organic food consumers between 2009 and 2016. Participants reported their consumption frequency of labeled organic foods (never, occasionally, or most of the time). 

The research team hypothesized that lower exposure to pesticide residues on food is the reason for the dramatic decrease in cancer. This is supported with a body of research showing that organic crops have lower levels of pesticide residues, and that eating organic food decreases your exposure to pesticides.

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This is the first study on such a large scale to find such clear support of organic foods. The well-designed study allowed the research team to follow up with the 68,946 participants over several years to see how their food choices impacted cancer risk, while controlling for confounding variables like dietary patterns and other lifestyle factors.

Research-Based Support For Organics

Research linking organic diets with a lower impact on health is becoming more common.

  • One study of just over 35,000 Norwegian women found mothers who ate organic food during pregnancy decreased the risk of certain uro-genital birth defects.
  • Other research on reproduction found that eating fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues was associated with a lower total sperm count and a lower percentage of normal-looking sperm among men presenting to a fertility clinic. 
  • Eating high–pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower probability of clinical pregnancy and live birth in a study done at a fertility clinic associated with a teaching hospital. Compared with women who ate less than one serving/day of non-organic fruits and vegetables, women eating more than two servings/day had an 18% lower probability of pregnancy and a 26% lower probability of live birth.

There is no disputing that cancer is becoming an epidemic in the US. It is diagnosed in new patients over a million times per year and is estimated to kill over 600,000 people in 2018 alone.

It just makes sense to do whatever we can to reduce our risk of cancer. Eating organically is, in my opinion, the hands-down simplest way to do this. But what about you? Is eating organic beyond the limits of your food budget?

  • Hi
    Thanks for the refrigerator sticker – a handy reminder of what you advocate.
    I have suffered from ME/CFS and had a tumour that the doctors found hard to determine whether it was malignant or benign. I also intuitively have thought that organic food would help me. Your article substantiated this and filled me witrh greater confidence about my future.
    The refrigerator sticker is a handy reminder for my family and me to embrace organid food.
    Thanks again,
    David.

    Oh, and P.S. I live in Australia. Cancer is an epidemic here and in many countries…not just the US alone 🙂

    • You have a good point, David. Many other countries are facing cancer epidemics. I am not a fan of our current president and should not adopt his insular only American all the time mindset.

      Thanks for the feedback on my fridge cheat sheet for anti-inflammatory food available with a subscription to the blog.

  • Great content and useful information. The only issue that i have is the pop-up that jumps at you as soon as you land on the page. i know that it is only personal opinion but lots of people are now very wary of sites that request information from the get-go. And I have to admit it does sniff a bit of list building and people don’t like lists for obvious reasons.

  • Hi Ellie,

    Really interesting article, I’ve been an advocate of organic food for a few years now. I operate in the space of testosterone production & eating organic food is a major recommendation of mine as pesticides sprayed on crops and hormones given to animals lowers testosterone; but research shows they also cause a number of other health issues like cancer.

    It’s good to see someone else talk about this!

    • Thanks for commenting, Nate.

      I agree with you that eating “clean” food, not necessarily organic but without pesticides and hormones, is the way to protect our health. I’ll keep talking about this issue if you will! 😉

  • Great article! My family is making the journey to a more healthy and organic lifestyle and couldn’t agree more about the dangers of pesticides and the risk of cancer. Just thinking of all the chemicals we put into our bodies or inhale on a daily basis is mind numbing. Thank you for providing just great information!

    • Thanks to you for switching to a healthier lifestyle, Cathie.

      I find the way our supposed watchdog and consumer protection agencies are totally beholden to business interests appalling. The chemicals allowed in American food and other products are obviously poisoning us, and are mostly banned in the EU. What is wrong with the US that these hormone disrupters and carcinogens are still in our food and environment?

      People like you and your family will help make the changes we so desperately need.

  • Hi Ellie,

    great post. We certainly buy organic when we can and if we can’t we wash our produce in apple cider vinegar which gets rid of most of the pesticides and other chemicals.

    I had a health scare a few years ago and since then I fast often, eat a mainly plant based diet and exercise most days.

    Thanks for a great post that will help many people.

    Kev

    • Thanks for your comment, Kevin.

      As you obviously know, removing as much pesticide residue as possible using a vinegar soak and rinse is another way to protect yourself. Fasting is another great way to stay healthy, too. I plan to do a post on timed eating and intermittent fasting soon, so watch for it.