According to a new study in the British Journal of Cancer, women who usually eat organic foods are no less likely to develop cancer than woman who follow a more conventional diet.
Cancer Research UK scientists say they could not find any evidence that would suggest a diet that is free from pesticides results in a reduction in the overall risk of a woman developing cancer.
The researchers polled 600,000 women aged 50 or above about whether they consumed organic foods. In addition to that they tracked the development of the 16 most common cancers during a period which lasted nine years following the survey. During that period, as many as 50,000 participants developed cancer.
When the scientists examined the results for the 16 types of cancer they found a reduction in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma but a small increase in the risk of breast cancer. However it must be stated the results could be the product of chance or other factors.
Pesticides are used extensively in agriculture and concerns have been raised that their use could result in an increase in the risk of developing cancer. Until now however the evidence has not been strong enough to provide concrete answers. Conventionally grown fruit and vegetables do contain tiny amounts of pesticides but so far there has been no evidence that it increases the risk of cancer.
Dr Claire Knight, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, says the results of the study adds to evidence that organic food consumption does not mean a lower risk of cancer. For those people who are concerned about pesticide residue on their fruit and vegetable, the best thing they can do is wash before eating.
“Scientists have estimated that over nine per cent of cancer cases in the UK may be linked to dietary factors, of which almost five per cent are linked to not eating enough fruit and vegetables. So eating a well-balanced diet which is high in fruit and vegetables – whether conventionally grown or not – can help reduce your cancer risk.”