Regular consumption of organic foods is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cancer, according to data from the French NutriNet-Santé study.
The production of food from organic farming and livestock farming is subject to specifications that strongly limit the use of phytosanitary products. Clearly, there are fewer pesticides in organic fruits and vegetables than in conventional ones, which is also confirmed by European monitoring.
However, the contribution of pesticides in the development of cancers, if it has been suspected for a long time, has never been clearly demonstrated in the context of exposure through the consumption of fruits and vegetables, protective foods. But this study, if it does not provide proof of the guilt of phytosanitary products, revives the debate and calls for more research.
Organic food: 25% less cancer risk, especially of the breast
This new study covers data from 68,946 participants in the NutriNet-Santé cohort. They were classified according to their frequency of consumption of organic food: never, sometimes or most of the time.
The results show that “regular” organic consumers have a 25% reduction in the risk of cancer, all types combined, compared to more occasional consumers. The effect is particularly marked for breast cancer in postmenopausal women (-34%) and for lymphoma (-76%).
The lower presence of pesticides in organic foodstuffs is a hypothesis, but the researchers also put forward as another avenue the higher content of certain potentially protective compounds in organic foods, such as antioxidants, carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamin C or a profile in more beneficial fatty acids.
The organic eater lives healthier
Although the authors took care to take into account several confounding factors (sociodemography, diet, lifestyle, family history), these results must be interpreted with caution. Indeed, we know that the organic consumer, more in search of health than the non-consumer, certainly adopts a healthier lifestyle in many respects, and it is not possible to take into account all the elements likely to have an influence.
Nevertheless, this study revives the debate on the health benefits of organic, which for the moment have never been so clearly suggested by science.
Baudry J. et al: Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Intern Med.,