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    Organic Food Does Not Reduce Cancer Risk
    By Hank Campbell | April 3rd 2014 02:48 PM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    Organic food has built a lot of mythology around its process - more ethical, more nutritional, fewer pesticides, a larger penis for the sons of organic shoppers - but one claim was a puzzler only subscribed to by the kind of people who buy homeopathy and healing crystals; that eating organic might reduce the risk of cancer.

    The premise is logical, at least for organic shoppers, if only adjacently valid scientifically. Poor diet has been correlated to increased cancer risk. And pesticides have been correlated to cancer risk. Basically, they see cancer and pesticides as a surrogate marker for each other so if there are fewer pesticides, it would mean less cancer.  Unfortunately, rational people know that organic food actually does not have fewer pesticides, it instead uses toxic poison that can be found in nature. Studies have instead shown that organic food uses more pesticides than conventional food.

    Outside epidemiological advocacy the organic food-pesticide-cancer link doesn't pass the smell test. There are spray and count activists dumping frogs in buckets of pesticides and then waiting to see how many get cancer, of course, but actual science doesn't work that way. Still, population studies have their place, especially when looking at a mass populace. If organic food reduces cancer risk, a giant population of organic consumers should get less cancer over the long term. 


    Sorry, organic food shoppers, your mice could end up looking like this no matter what they eat. Link: Forbes

    A recent paper follow 623,080 middle-aged UK women who reported their consumption of organic food over a period of 9.3 years. That doesn't sound like a long time? In Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", she claimed people sprayed DDT and got cancer and died a few months later so 9 years is plenty. 53,769 cases showed no meaningful difference in cancer incidence between organic food and normal food consumers. Organic food consumers even showed a small increased risk of breast cancer while they showed a reduction in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

    Only activists are going to highlight those differences as meaningful (and those selling them books - David Perlmutter's claim that giving up wheat can prevent half of Alzheimer's cases was based on a possible association in 13 people) but there are lots of other variables that could account for it. So buy food you like that tastes the way you want and ignore marketing hype on the label.

    Citation: K E Bradbury, A Balkwill, E A Spencer, A W Roddam, G K Reeves, J Green, T J Key, V Beral, K Pirie and The Million Women Study Collaborators, 'Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom', British Journal of Cancer , 27 March 2014  doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.148

    Comments

    In Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", she claimed people sprayed DDT and got cancer and died a few months later . . .

    Can you give me the page that claim is on? I can't find it in Silent Spring, nor in any of her other writings.

    There are different kinds of cancer which is why we need to eat healthy and organic vegetables.

    I'm... confused. So does this mean I can eat GM-foods? I feel like this is what this article is saying.

    You are what average intelligence people call stupid. This article doesn't even mention GM foods one time.

    Do you have a disorder that prevents you from eating? Maybe you should stick some GM food in your mouth and try. That would be the best way to find out if you can eat it. If your teeth chew it up and you swallow it, then the answer is yes - you CAN eat GM food.

    You say "Studies have instead shown that organic food uses more pesticides than conventional food." To support this you cite your own article which contains this: "The Canadian Food Inspection Agency did a study and found that organic foods contain high levels of pestcides." So one study becomes "studies," an exaggeration that undermines your credibility. Next time cite the Stanford meta-analysis and tone down the spin: "The review yielded scant evidence that conventional foods posed greater health risks than organic products. While researchers found that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, organic foods are not necessarily 100 percent free of pesticides. What’s more, as the researchers noted, the pesticide levels of all foods generally fell within the allowable safety limits. Two studies of children consuming organic and conventional diets did find lower levels of pesticide residues in the urine of children on organic diets, though the significance of these findings on child health is unclear. Additionally, organic chicken and pork appeared to reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but the clinical significance of this is also unclear." - See more at: http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2012/september/organic.html#sthash.R7jcThs7....

    Hank
    I linked to an article which discussed the findings and also made the case that traditional farming has dematerialized quite successfully and that it also has engaged in much smarter use of pesticides than organic food. You linked to a press release written by a university employee doing public relations work. You'll have to forgive us all if we aren't convinced that makes you more credible.
    Who is we? It's just you and me Hank, and my credibility is not at issue. I'm just pointing out that the Stanford Study, a meta-analysis of more than 200 studies that many consider the gold standard, directly contradicts your statement that studies (well, really just the one study) "have instead shown that organic food uses more pesticides than conventional food." Your willingness to call a study "studies" and to generalize from it is telling, as is your unwillingness to address my point directly in your response. Why don't you address what the vast majority of evidence shows?

    Hank
    There is no evidence that shows that organic food leads to less cancer. Now, you may like the spray and count people that actual scientists make fun of, and their tumorous rats and gonad-mutated frogs, that is your choice, it does not make the approach valid.

    Your credibility isn't at issue because anonymous people on the Internet have none. If you can show that organic food causes less cancer, write the article and post it up here.