There are many valid reasons to consume organic food; protection against cancer is not one of them.
A recent article in the British Journal of Cancer (the official journal of Cancer Research UK) reported that “Consumption of organic food was not associated with a reduction in the incidence of all cancer”. The authors of the article, headed by scientists from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at University of Oxford, included more than 600,000 UK women in their study. The authors found that “there was little or no decrease in the incidence of cancer associated with consumption of organic food, except possibly for non-Hodgkin lymphoma” whereas “there was a small increase in risk of breast cancer among women who reported usually or always eating organic food”.
The fact that this study was carried out at all is testament to the power of the organic industry’s marketing schemes. There is no clear scientific reason to assume that consumption of organic food will protect from cancer. Furthermore, there are no convincing studies showing that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food (1,2,3), and it is certainly not safer (4). Why was the study carried out then? Probably because of the false perception -pedalled by the organic food industry- that “organic” food is a healthier alternative to “conventional” food. Many scientists and medics are not immune to this sustained pseudoscientific bombardment; they are just part of the society they live in. Fortunately however, most scientists are honest enough as to admit the results of their own studies.
You can choose organic food because you believe that it is better for the environment (although this is often another myth). You can choose organic food because it tastes better (you can have this one; although actually it is not because it is “organic” but because it is well-handled that it tastes better). Finally, you can choose organic food because you have spare income and you like to support craft industries (I am 100% behind this option). Do not fool yourself into believing that by buying organic you are protecting you family’s health in any way; that’s just a marketing gimmick or a partisan lie.
1 – J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 58, 10323–10329, 2010
2 – Am J Clin Nutr Vol. 92, 203–10, 2010.
3 – J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 54, No. 21, 2006
4 – EMBO reports. Vol 15, No 2, 2014