redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Steering clear of pesticides in food won’t reduce a woman’s likelihood of developing cancer, researchers from the Oxford University Cancer Epidemiology Unit claim in a recently-published report.
The study, which was published last week by the British Journal of Cancer, found that women who always or primarily consumed organic foods had the same likelihood of developing cancer as those whose diets consisted mostly of traditionally processed foods.
Dr. Kathryn Bradbury and her colleagues polled approximately 600,000 female subjects who were at least 50 years of age whether or not they regularly consumed organic foods as part of the Million Women Study. They also looked at how many women went on to develop 16 of the most common forms of cancer in the nine-year period following the study.
Overall, approximately 50,000 women developed cancer during that time. However, Dr. Bradbury’s team discovered no difference in the overall cancer risk between the 180,000 women who said that they had never eaten organic food with the roughly 45,000 ladies who said that the usually or always consume organically grown products.
The scientists also looked individually at the 16 most common types of the disease, and found a slight increase in the risk of developing breast cancer and a reduction in the likelihood of contracting non-Hodgkin lymphoma in women who ate primarily organic food. However, that could be due in part to luck and other factors, the authors noted.
“In this large study of middle-aged women in the UK we found no evidence that a woman’s overall cancer risk was decreased if she generally ate organic food,” study author and Oxford University epidemiology professor Tim Key said in a statement Friday.
The agricultural industry frequently uses pesticides, and recently many consumers have become concerned that they could increase the risk of cancer. While the study authors report that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables can contain trace amounts of pesticides, there is no evidence to suggest that eating them increases cancer risk.
“This study adds to the evidence that eating organically grown food doesn’t lower your overall cancer risk. But if you’re anxious about pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables, it’s a good idea to wash them before eating,” explained Dr. Claire Knight of Cancer Research UK.
“Scientists have estimated that over 9 percent of cancer cases in the UK may be linked to dietary factors, of which almost 5 percent are linked to not eating enough fruit and vegetables,” she added. “So eating a well-balanced diet which is high in fruit and vegetables – whether conventionally grown or not – can help reduce your cancer risk.”