Organic Food Consumption and Cancer Risk: What's the Link?

Participants were asked about the frequency of intake of 16 organic products
Participants were asked about the frequency of intake of 16 organic products

Consuming organic foods may decrease a person's risk for certain cancers, according to findings from a large cohort study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

To investigate the link between organic food consumption and cancer risk, study authors conducted a population-based prospective study involving a large cohort of French adults. Participants were asked about the frequency of intake of 16 organic products, including fruits, vegetables, and dairy products; an organic food score was calculated based on frequency of consumption (2 points for “most of the time”, 1 point for “occasionally”) for each product. “This study estimated the risk of cancer in association with the organic food score (modeled as quartiles) using Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for potential cancer risk factors,” explained the authors.

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Results showed that among 68,946 participants, there were 1,340 incident cases of cancer, the most prevalent being breast cancer (N=459), prostate cancer (N=180), skin cancer (N=135), colorectal cancer (N=99), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (N=47), and other lymphomas (N=15). Increased organic food consumption (higher organic food scores) was associated with a reduced risk of overall cancer (hazard ratio [HR] for quartile 4 vs quartile 1, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.63-0.88; =.001 for trend; absolute risk reduction, 0.6%; HR for a 5-point increase, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.88-0.96), even after accounting for other dietary factors. Specifically, a negative association was observed between high organic food scores and postmenopausal breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and other lymphomas, but not with other cancer types.

“Although the study findings need to be confirmed, promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer,” concluded the authors.

For more information visit JAMAnetwork.org.