Your work looks at the relationship between organic food intake and cancer risk. Has this relationship been studied?
As for the direct link between cancer and the consumption of organic products, there was only one study of English staff, conducted in 2014 with 600,000 women over a period of 9 years, and therefore of great statistical strength. This study found no significant association between organic food intake and cancer risk of all types. However, she noted a decreased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among women who reported more frequent use of organic food.
What about your research?
Our analysis included a sample of about 70,000 people (78% women, average age 44 years) of the French NutriNet-Santé group for a period of about 4.5 years. We used the degree of consumption of finer organic products than the English, though not quantitative, study. Participants reported on the study using
Frequency of use questionnaire ("never", "occasionally", "most of the time") for 16 food groups (fruits, vegetables, soy products, etc.). We then divided the population into four groups of equal size according to the consumption of organic products.
One of the difficulties of such research is that those who eat organic products also have, on average, healthier behaviors, a more balanced diet and less smoke than others. In our analyzes, we took into account the so-called confounding factors, which tend to confuse results. To do this, we used specific statistical models that minimize all these biases, using different adjustments. So compare the risks of developing cancer among small consumers of organic and fat, all things are equal.
And what are the results?
We found that people reporting organic food intake more often have a 25% lower risk of developing cancer than neither consumers nor episodic organic consumers. This association is particularly strong for postmenopausal breast cancer, with a 34% risk reduction, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and a 75% reduction.
What can we conclude?
We considered some hypotheses to explain the results. The main is that organic products have far less synthetic pesticide residues than their counterparts in conventional agriculture. But although different cues support this trajectory, our research does not show this association. It is important to emphasize that this is observation, and despite the first important results, we must be careful about their interpretations and their implications. We did not show a causal relationship, but found a link between organic food intake and a reduced cancer risk.
In addition, there are only two studies on the subject, our counting, which is very little. Other epidemiological work is required on other populations. It is based on the convergence of results from observational studies combined with experimental approaches that may be prone to causation and recommendation.