Large consumers of organic products would have a 76% lower risk of developing lymphoma (cancer of immune cells), and for menopausal women, a 34% lower risk of breast cancer, according to a new French study . This new work is thus the first to attempt to quantify the risk of cancer based on exposure to pesticides through food and report a risk of any type of cancer decreased by 25% by eating organic! New data published in the prestigious journal JAMA International Medicine. The Sorbonne Paris Cité Center for Research in Epidemiology and Statistics, to whom we owe the study, is made up of members of INRA and INSERM but also of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (Cnam) and the Paris XIII University.
We are consuming more and more organic products. Their consumption in France jumped by 14% in the first half of 2017. The major stake in the consumption of organic food is health: organic food is attributed to a better nutritional quality and a lower contamination of pesticides. Indeed, products from organic farming, including cereals, contain 4 times less pesticides than those from conventional agriculture, according to a large study in 2014.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ranked 3 pesticides commonly used in agriculture – glyphosate, malathion and diazinon – as carcinogenic to humans, but only based on the results of exposure studies. professional (mainly farmers) in humans and animal laboratories. Thus, in farmers, malathion is associated with prostate cancer, diazinon with lung cancer and the 3 pesticides are individually linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But what about exposure through food? In the United States, more than 90% of the population has detectable pesticides in their urine and blood, say Harvard experts who wrote a review of the study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
However, only one study showed a relationship between the frequency of organic food consumption and the risk of cancer, indicating a 21% lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when eating organic. Problem: it only assessed the consumption of organic foods with a basic question. However, several studies have shown that organic consumers tend to have a better lifestyle and a higher standard of living, factors that reduce the risk of contracting cancer and must therefore be taken into account.
The researchers therefore looked at the 68,946 participants in the French NutriNet-Santé cohort, which they classified according to their self-reported consumption of 16 groups of biological products (most of the time, occasionally or never), and then followed them. for an average of 5 years. To make the study as solid as possible, the questionnaire included information on lifestyle, health status, physical activity, smoking status or diet.
The results are clear: the largest consumers of organic food had 25% less cancer risk in the 5 years of follow-up, compared to those who consumed the least. But not on all cancers. Thus, only breast cancer in postmenopausal women (-34% risk) and lymphoma (-76% risk) showed a difference, while the trend was not significant for other types of cancer.
However, the questionnaires are still perfectible, and several limitations were noted in the expert commentary published in the same magazine as the article. These observations include the lack of effective measurement of pesticide exposure among or without organic foods, or less attention to lifestyle factors in non-organic consumers. “Although the study has tried to account for known risk factors in the statistical analysis, a residual bias is still likely,” says Pr Tom Sanders, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, on the website. Science Media Center. He therefore finds it difficult to attribute with certainty the difference in risk observed for cancers to organic food alone or to overall lifestyle. “In addition, the number of cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was low compared to the most common causes of cancer,” he says. He thus considers “exaggerated” the conclusion that the promotion of organic food to the population could be a promising cancer prevention strategy. If the link between cancer risk and organic food consumption remains a topic