Shoppers who swear by the benefits of eating organic may be onto something, according to a new study out this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers in France found a significant decrease in cancer occurrence among people who frequently eat organic food. The study of nearly 70,000 French adults – mostly middle-aged women – found that those who ate organic food most often had 25 percent fewer cancers than those who didn't.
Researchers saw a particularly marked drop in post-menopausal breast cancers and lymphomas among the organic-eaters. They posited that the results could be linked to an avoidance of synthetic pesticides sometimes used in farming and agriculture that have been dubbed carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
But the results don't necessarily mean organic food definitely decreases cancer occurrence. Adults who eat organic food may also have healthier lifestyle habits that contribute to a decline in cancer risk, the researchers note. The study's time window hovered around a relatively short five years.
A commentary written by three Harvard University researchers and published alongside the study notes some limitations of the research, including issues with the organic-foods questionnaire, and called for further research.
The results contradict some findings issued in 2014 as part of a large survey known as the Million Women Study that reported a small increase in breast cancer in women who ate organically.
The organic food industry has seen a boon in the last decade, more than doubling between 2007 and 2016. In 2017, organic foods accounted for 5.5 percent of all food sold in the United States, according to the Organic Trade Association.
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