When you ask people about the safety of our food supply, pesticides nearly always top the list of concerns. Specifically, people worry that exposure to pesticides in their food increases the risk of cancer.
On a gut level, this seems like a no-brainer. When we consume food that has been treated with pesticides, we consume trace amounts of these chemicals. And many of these compounds have been categorized as possible or probable carcinogens. How could taking in more pesticides NOT increase our cancer risk?
And yet, the available evidence didn’t seem to line up with this seemingly obvious conclusion. In 2014, for example, a ten-year study of more than a half million British women found that those who always ate organic food had essentially the same risk of getting cancer as those who never did.
This year, however, a French study seemed to find the opposite. Researchers analyzed the diets of almost 70,000 people and concluded that “a higher frequency of organic food consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.”
Finally, a study confirmed what a lot of people felt that they already knew: eating organic can reduce your risk of getting cancer. Duh. Case closed.
Having looked at the details of this study, I’m not ready to close that case just yet. But before we dig into that, let’s take a brief detour to examine another closely-related belief: Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces cancer risk.