More Produce (Organic or Not) Cuts Cancer Risk

The benefits of eating produce far outweigh potential cancer risk caused by conventionally grown fruits and vegetables

People concerned about the risks of eating nonorganic produce, will be happy to hear that they can eliminate cancer from their concerns. Researchers teamed up to compare the cancer prevention effects of fruits and vegetables and the potential increased cancer risk from pesticide exposure from these foods, and the findings published in Food and Chemical Toxicology report that the benefits of eating produce far outweigh potential cancer risk caused by conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

The researchers used an analysis done by The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute of Cancer Research in 2007 to estimate the number of cancer cases that could be prevented every year if half of the people in the United States ate 80 grams (one serving) more of fruits and vegetables each per day. They also used information from the USDA Pesticide Data Program to estimate the number of cancer cases from pesticide exposure that could be attributed to eating this much more produce.

They found that if half of the US population were to eat one more serving of fruits and vegetables each per day 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented every year, and up to 10 cancer cases could be caused every year by an increase in pesticide exposure.

“The positive health effects that could result from an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables will greatly exceed any putative negative effects that might be associated with the increased intake of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables,” concluded the researchers, a team formed between the consulting firm, Exponent, and the University of California, Davis. It should be noted that the study was sponsored by the Alliance for Food and Farming and the authors have consulted for agrochemical companies.

Know the risks

The study helps sheds light on the gap between public perceptions of what causes cancer and what’s actually been proven.

Some cancer risk factors can’t be prevented, like family history or age. Others, you can do something about. Here are some well-known risk factors and the cancers they may cause:

  • Smoking and other tobacco use increases the chances of developing cancer of the lung, larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidney, throat, stomach, pancreas, and cervix.
  • Obesity/overweight increases the risk of breast, colon, kidney, esophagus, and uterine cancer.
  • Alcohol increases the risk of developing mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, and breast cancer.
  • Sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light increase the risk of several forms of skins cancer.
  • Certain hormones, like those used to treat menopausal symptoms in women may increase the chance of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer.

The take-home message? Don’t use tobacco products, maintain a healthy weight, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, use alcohol in moderation (no more than a couple of drinks per week), use sunscreen and protective clothing especially during prime sunburn hours, and explore other options for managing menopausal symptoms.

By Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

Published by


Emerson Ecologics provides healthcare professionals with the highest quality nutritional supplements, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, herbs, standardized herbal extracts, green foods, and essential fatty acids - from the world's leading manufacturers of professional supplements Our goal is to support health care professionals with the highest quality nutrients and herbs available, along with the best customer service and on-call technical support staff of naturopathic doctors and advanced degree nutritionists. As experienced practitioners, we know how important a wide choice of quality products, prompt friendly service, and technical and research support can be to healthcare practitioners. We are always trying to improve our service and actively solicit your feedback and suggestions as to how we can serve you better.