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New study: Eating organic food reduces cancer risk

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Vegetables on a shelf
A new study has shown, that the consumption of organic food may reduce the risk to develop cancer. © Shutterstock/Ekaterina Pokrovsky

French scientists investigated the link between the consumption of organic food and the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Result: More organic food reduces the risk of cancer. However, the work has scientific weaknesses.

The study is based on a cohort study in which 69,000 people, three quarters of them women, took part. In 2009, the participants were extensively examined and interviewed and they also provided information about their eating habits. In 2016, the data of the participants were collected again and it was determined which of them had contracted cancer in the past seven years.

Risk reduced by 25 percent

The scientists now put the data of cancer patients in relation to the reported dietary habits. The data showed that people who, according to their own statements, consumed a particularly large amount of organic food had a 25 percent lower risk of developing cancer. The correlation was particularly pronounced in lymphoma (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) and breast cancer. The scientists attributed their results to the fact that organic foods are far less contaminated with pesticides than conventional foods.


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Self-assessment of organic consumption as a weakness

The scientists themselves mention a significant weakness of the study. The underlying consumption of organic food was not measured quantitatively, but was based on a self-assessment of the participants at the beginning of the study. The scientists divided the subjects into four groups, each of which consumed a different amount of organic food, based on the data that differentiated between 16 different food groups. For the quarter with the highest organic consumption, the above mentioned reduction of cancer risk applied. Due to this weakness, some nutrition experts consider the study as little meaningful. Thus, the German magazine Focus quotes Harvard professor Jorge E. Chavarro: "At the current state of research, the relationship between the consumption of organic foods and the risk of cancer is still unclear".

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