October 29, 2018/Cancer Care & Prevention

Can Eating More Organic Food Reduce Your Risk of Developing Cancer?

How to interpret a new study's findings

A person holding a potato, showcasing a variety of fresh produce.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of eating organic food when it comes to a healthy diet. But can going organic actually help reduce our risk of developing cancer? A new study looked at 68,946 people and followed them for about five years to try to shed some light on this question.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The people were divided into three groups — those who never ate organic foods, those who ate them occasionally and those who ate organic most of the time.

A decrease in certain cancers for organic-food eaters?

Oncologist Dale Shepard, MD, PhD, did not take part in the research, but says the study did show a decrease in risk for certain cancers for those who ate more organic.

“What they found was that in patients who ate mostly organic foods, there were fewer cancers — specifically post-menopausal breast cancer and lymphoma,” Dr. Shepard explains.

In addition to a reduction in post-menopausal breast cancers and lymphomas, researchers found that those who ate organic foods also had fewer prostate cancers, skin cancers and colorectal cancers.

Is it diet or overall healthy lifestyle?

Dr. Shepard points out that people who eat organic foods also have the tendency to eat healthier diets and exercise more, both of which are traits that have been associated with reduced cancer risk.

While it’s difficult to say at this point that eating organic is directly associated with a reduction in cancer risk, he says it’s always good to think of ways we can try to prevent cancers — whether it’s through more screening or improving our lifestyle habits.

Eating a heart-healthy diet, whether specifically organic or not, is beneficial for reducing our risk of all cancers, Dr. Shepard notes.

“In general, we know that healthier diets are better for you when it comes to cancer risk,” he says. “Any time people can incorporate more fruits and vegetables and minimize processed foods, the better.”

Dr. Shepard says while more research needs to be done to look at the role that organic food may play in cancer prevention, it’s important for people to focus on risk factors that are within their control. And eating a healthy diet is something everyone can do.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person in grocery market with basket of fresh veggies picking out tomatoes
May 8, 2024/Nutrition
Organic Foods: Are They Better for You?

Potential benefits include fewer pesticides and insecticides and more nutrients — but it all comes at an additional cost

two people standing at standing work desks
January 25, 2024/Cancer Care & Prevention
Can Sitting Too Much Increase Your Cancer Risk?

Studies show the high health cost of spending hours in a chair

Person prepping meal in kitchen.
How To Prevent Cancer: 6 Ways To Lower Your Risk

Quitting smoking, limiting your alcohol intake and eating a healthy diet are all major factors

Close up of white and brown eggs in egg container.
August 10, 2022/Nutrition
Best Eggs to Buy: When Labels Matter Most

Pasture-raised and organic eggs have additional nutritional benefits

A brown, speckled egg with nine more eggs in the background
December 20, 2020/Nutrition
Should You Pay More for Cage-Free or Organic Eggs?

Egg labels aren't all they're cracked up to be

man meditating in the middle of a business day
September 1, 2020/Wellness
5 Healthy Habits That Prevent Chronic Disease

And how to make healthy lifestyle habits permanent

Cow eating grass in pasture
July 17, 2019/Nutrition
Grass-fed vs. Organic Meat: What’s the Difference?

What you buy can affect your health, and the environment too

Can Hair Protect Your Scalp from Skin Cancer?
May 14, 2018/Skin Care & Beauty
Can Your Hair Protect Your Scalp From Skin Cancer?

The Short Answer from a dermatologist

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad