/Does eating organic reduce the risk of cancer? Three questions on the study of French researchers devoted to food
Does Eating Organic Reduce The Risk Of Cancer? Three Questions

Does eating organic reduce the risk of cancer? Three questions on the study of French researchers devoted to food

These scientists have followed, between May 2009 and November 2016, nearly 70,000 volunteers and observed an increased risk of cancer in those who hardly ever consume food from organic farming.

Fat consumers of organic products have a reduced risk of getting cancer, according to a new scientific study.  (PASCAL BONNIERE / MAXPPP)

At a time when scandals involving pesticides mount, the news has had the effect of a bomb. French researchers have observed a 25% reduction in the risk of cancer in regular consumers of organic foods, according to a study conducted on a sample of more than 68,000 people published Monday, October 22 in the American medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine. How to make organic the miracle ingredient in the fight against cancer? It’s a bit early to tell. Explanations.

What does the survey say?

Conducted over seven years, this survey highlights that the heaviest consumers of organic products have a cancer risk reduced by a quarter compared to those who consume the least. This reduction even reaches 34% for breast cancers following menopause and 76% for lymphomas, that is to say a particular type of blood cancer.

Quoted by The world, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot, researcher in nutritional epidemiology and co-author of the survey, explains this correlation by the presence of pesticides at a higher dose in foods from conventional agriculture.

In the evening daily, the American epidemiologist Philip Landrigan points out that “One of the great strengths” of this work lies in the fact that its conclusions “Are broadly consistent with the results of studies conducted on occupational exposure to pesticides”. And The world to recall that lymphomas are notably one of the most common cancers in farmers whose exposure to pesticides is significant.

How was it made?

To carry out this work, French researchers followed, between May 2009 and November 2016, nearly 70,000 volunteers registered on the NutriNet site in order to participate in studies on eating habits. The researchers presented 16 products to these volunteers, who were asked if they were consuming “never”, “Occasionally” Where “most of the time” versions that were labeled organic, details Le Figaro.

They were thus divided into four groups, from the biggest consumers of organic (for whom organic products represent more than 50% of the diet) to those who hardly ever consume it. Between 2009 and 2016, 1,340 cancers appeared among participants. However, research results have shown that the largest consumers of organic products were 25% less affected than those who consumed the least.

What are the limits of this study?

The authors of the study themselves recognize the presence of bias in their sample. Asked by Le Figaro, the co-author of this survey explains that “NutriNet participants are voluntary people, very interested in nutrition and health”. But according to her, the fact that the subjects studied pay more attention than the average to their nutrition would rather tend to “Underestimate the associations observed, because the subjects are already less at risk” than the general population.

It is also difficult to know if the group of volunteers keen on organic food developed less cancer than the others because of this alone. The HuffPost recalls that previous studies have shown that people who eat organic are also “Less often smokers, less overweight or obese, [ont] a better food balance ”. These are all elements that influence the risk of contracting cancer. The authors of the study therefore “Corrected their analysis” based on a number of characteristics of study participants, such as body mass index, level of physical activity, socio-professional category, quality of diet, etc., notes The world.

An editorial signed by Harvard researchers (in English) and which accompanies the article welcomes the survey of their French counterparts, but also underlines this difficulty in finding a unique cause and effect link between a high consumption of foods from organic farming and a lower exposure to cancer. These American researchers also note that the higher price of organic food is often a brake on their consumption. And fear that because of the conclusions of the French study, some modest households are turning away from conventional fruits and vegetables, which nevertheless contribute to a healthy diet.