Apparent Association of Organic Food Consumption with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma


A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association* provided statistical evidence that consumption of organic foods in France was associated with a lower prevalence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and post-menopausal breast cancer.

The study involved 69,000 adults divided into quartiles based on claimed intake of organic foods. Over the period May 2009 to November 2016, 1,340 incident cases of cancer were identified. Allowing for compounding factors including socio-demographics, lifestyle and dietary preferences, there was in inverse association between consumption of organic food and developing either of the two cancer diagnoses.

The authors implied that the difference was due to the presence of pesticides citing the European Food Safety Authority. This agency found 44 percent of conventionally produced samples contained one or more quantifiable pesticide residues compared to 6.5 percent of organic samples. The authors concluded because of their lower exposure to pesticide residues, consumers may have a lower risk of developing cancer.

It is noted that 78 percent of the participants in this study were female, participating in a national NutriNet-Sante study. Consumers incorporating a large proportion of organic foods in their diets usually are of a higher economic demographic and are obviously health-conscious. This cohort may also exhibit other health-promotional activities such as moderation in alcohol consumption, abstaining from tobacco and incorporating exercise in their daily routines.

The study might have been more persuasive had the investigators measured pesticide residues in urine and available tissue samples in order to correlate consumption of organic foods with the two cancers.

*Alles, B. et. al. “Association of frequency of organic food consumption with cancer risk findings from the NutriNet-Sante perspective cohorts study”, JAMA Intern MED published online on October 22, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4357