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Vindication for Organic foods New CNN Article  RSS feed

 
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You can cut your cancer risk by eating organic, a new study says
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/22/health/organic-food-cancer-study/index.html

Those who ate the most organic food were 25% less likely to develop cancer. Specifically, they were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer.
Even participants who ate low-to-medium quality diets yet stuck with organic food experienced a reduced risk of cancer, the authors found.
 
pollinator
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I haven't read the article, but it seems like commonsense to me that eating chemicals isn't a good idea. Not only pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, but all those other chemicals found in processed foods......stabilizers, colorings, flavorings, texturizers, preservatives, etc. I avoid them.

Now that I'm growing my own foods, I also avoid all those organic approved chemicals, too.  Just because it's organic doesn't mean that it's chemical free. There are lot of chemicals used in organic food production.

Chemical free is preferred.
 
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That article represents “bad science” in all its glory.

Yes, a study was performed. Yes, people in the group who reported eating more organic food had less cancer.

BUT

It is massively over reaching to say anything about a causal link between the organic food and cancer rates. In fact it is more probably that there is some other factor contributing to both. Buying, or not buying, organic food is a good indicator for those other factors.

Consider three people, Anne, Bob and Claire

Anne is concerned about her health. She exercises regularly, eats a balanced diet, does not smoke and drinks in moderation. From time to time she buys organic food because she believes it is better for her.

Bob is an office worker in a stressful job. He works long hours, smokes on his breaks and at the weekend drinks with his mates. He knows his health is suffering, but has no real interest in changing. Most of his meals are pre-processed because he has little time to cook from fresh. He can’t remember ever buying anything labeled organic.

Claire is poor she works hard to keep a roof over her family and feed them well. Unfortunately the cheap food that she can afford is mostly empty calories - lots of rice, cheap bread and so on. They rarely get fresh fruit and vegetable.

The study linked does nothing to look at the people behind the statistics.

Anne’s lower risk of cancer is because is concerned for her health generally, and has the means to take steps to protect it. Consumption of organic - which is more expensive and perceived to be healthier - is an indicator for all the other steps she is taking. Organic food is not the causal factor.

Bob’s lifestyle is dreadful. He is highly unlikely to go out of his way to buy organic food. But his higher cancer risk is much more to do with his smoking and drinking than organic food. Again, other factors are causal.

Claire may want to eat organic, but poverty prevents her. And poverty comes with its own set of health issues. People who are poor are less likely to take preventative measures to protect their health, they eat less nutritious food and have more stressful jobs. If we have Claire organics food she would still be poor and the other causal factors would still be there.

Bottom line:
This article tells us that rich people who care about their health are more likely to be healthier.

(Other “bad science” red flags - the link to the original journal article is broken.

It is a news site - they get links by sensationalising everything. Read the original scientists own words for a more balanced view.)
 
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It would seem to me that folks who consume organic foods on a regular basis would also have other "healthy habits" as well and that all of these combined, not just the consumption of organic foods, would lead to reduced cancer occurrences.
 
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Here's the link to the study itself Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk

Here is just one of the examples of the broad range of questions asked...others are detailed in the study...


 
gardener
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Michael, from what I am seeing your instincts were right but target-identification may have been off. The study itself seems to have been rather well done, but despite state-of-the art efforts to control for the “healthy people eat organic food” effects, the positive benefits found were very tiny and likly attributable to that.  All of which is pretty clear in the study.

The trouble, as always, is a bunch of TERRIBLE media reporting on the study. Reporters have too much incentive to sensationalize this kind of science;they could get it right but then it would not be much story, so they don’t.

Social media thread that helped me understand this study: https://twitter.com/gidmk/status/1054491329848209408
 
Michael Cox
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Dan Boone wrote:The trouble, as always, is a bunch of TERRIBLE media reporting on the study. Reporters have too much incentive to sensationalize this kind of science;they could get it right but then it would not be much story, so they don’t.



I couldn't see the original journal article, as the link was broken when I tried to open it.

As for media reporting of these stories, this list is old and very out do date, but good fun

Things that give you cancer, according to the Daily Mail
 
Michael Cox
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And in reference to the image linked above, this XKCD comic may be relevant here:

 
Judith Browning
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Michael, it seems like you are first saying there was not enough criteria used for this study and now after reading (?) the study you imply there is too much?

I understand that all 'studies' are not valid or created equal.......

 
Michael Cox
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(Caveat - still can't read the original published journal article as the link is broken)

Not really. My point was really that the conclusions - as reported in the media article and in the original post here - could not be justified by the evidence the research actually presented. As study of this sort - large as it is - is always going to be rife with confounding factors. In this case, organic food consumption is really representing a host of other linked lifestyle factors. Drilling down into the data in that table, for instance

People who self report as being on the upper end of the "organic food scores" (right hand column eat more organic food):
Eat less red meat
Are less likely to be a current smoker
Are more likely to be in the higher earning brackets

All of these are known factors that contribute to cancer incidence.

Scientists typically couch their conclusions very cautiously, and that caution gets lost in the translation to the wider media
 
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I find it interesting that "low activity" is "30 minutes of brisk walking per day".  I doubt most Americans get that much.
 
Judith Browning
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(Caveat - still can't read the original published journal article as the link is broken)


I posted the link above...here it is again https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2707948

Seems to work fine for me.
 
Kalaina Nielson
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30362975

Additional studies back up the cancer risk of pesticides.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25824023

And other risks.
 
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