Is Organic Really Healthier?

You may have heard that there’s not enough scientific evidence to support switching to organic foods. However, two recent studies suggest eating organic IS actually healthier and worth the investment.

 

Organic Food – 25% fewer cancers

A study published in September in JAMA Internal Medicine reports significantly less cancer in people who ate more organic foods (1). The French study followed nearly 70,000 adults for five years. The people who ate the most organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers than those who never ate organic. Those who ate the most organic foods saw a steep reduction of lymphomas, and significantly fewer postmenopausal breast cancers.

A significant reduction in lymphomas in people who eat organic foods was also demonstrated in earlier studies. (2) Farmers who are exposed to certain pesticides consistently have a higher incidence of some lymphomas. Two pesticides commonly used in farming — malathion and diazinon, as well as the herbicide glyphosate — are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as likely human carcinogens, linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (3)

Many pesticides disrupt hormones, particularly estrogen, which is why consuming organic foods may reduce breast cancer. (4)

 

Organic Food – more antioxidants, less toxic heavy metals and pesticides

A 2014 meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that organic crops have more antioxidants, and can boost a person’s antioxidant intake by up to 40%. The study also found that organic crops havelower concentrations of cadmium (a toxic heavy metal) and significantly less pesticide residue than the conventionally grown produce. On average, cadmium and levels were 48% lower, and pesticide residue was 400% lower, in organic produce. (5)

Cadmium is classified as a category I carcinogen, meaning it contributes to the development of cancers. It is also linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, thyroid dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and hormone dysregulation. (6,7,8,9)

In addition to pesticide exposure being linked with cancer development, as mentioned above, studies show pesticides negatively impact children’s development, even at very low levels. (10) Pesticides are also linked with ADHD, lower IQ, and numerous other problems. (11,12)

 

Recommendations

  • Buy organic, locally grown produce whenever possible. Nutrients in produce begin to degrade as soon as they are harvested, so eating food close to its source means you will be consuming significantly more nutritious food.

 

  • Prioritize organic for your kids. Children and pregnant women are more susceptible to the negative impacts of pesticides and heavy metals.

 

  • Shop the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.”If your access to organic produce is limited by money or geography, then at least focus on buying organic varieties of the produce with the highest amounts of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of these, called the “Dirty Dozen,” as well as the “Clean Fifteen,” which are the varieties that are safer to buy conventionally. Both lists are accessible here.

Do you consider organic foods important to your overall health? Do you buy organic or local produce? Why or why not? Let us know in comments!