March 15, 2019
By: Dr. Amit Rana

Organic Food in Cancer Prevention

Water is the elixir of life and food is medicine. These days, the food we get from the grocery store is sure to have two or three sections based on where the produce comes from. Genetically modified foods( GMOs), inorganic and the organic. While most of what we eat are inorganic, meaning the food has been treated and grown using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, this increases our risk of developing cancer that such chemicals contribute to.  While most of the news states that organic food we consume does not do much in reducing our risks of developing cancer, it cannot be disregarded as a myth as studies are being made to show the impact of organic foods on the human body and fighting cancer.

A study of nearly 70,000 French adults who were tracked for an average of 4.5 years found that those who ate the most organic foods were less likely to develop certain kinds of cancer than the people who ate the least.  In the study, it was found that glyphosate, malathion, and diazinon could be the probable causative factors of cancer alongside carcinogens, a very powerful cancer-causing substance.  Also in the research, the people who consumed organic foods often had higher incomes, more education, and higher-status jobs and over-all better lifestyle. They were also more likely to exercise, to have quit smoking, and to eat higher amounts of healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables. All of these things are associated with a lower risk of cancer. It was found after taking into account all these factors that people who had access to frequent consumption of organic food were 25 percent less likely to develop any type of cancer. The women who ate organic foods most often were 34 percent less likely to receive this diagnosis than women who ate organic foods the least. 

Organic produce has phytochemicals like carotenoids, flavonoids among other chemicals that help fight harmful diseases and cure inflammations but they alone can not act as miracle workers. It is the series of other healthy habits that follow the consumption of organic foods that weigh in as anti-cancer causing factors.  Organic foods are rich and in the natural state of growth as opposed to the conventional produce growth these days so they have better nutritional value and dietary fiber value.  Most importantly, they do not contain chemicals that are seen in inorganic produce. Although research around the anti-cancer causing nature of organic food is still unclear as to crediting organic foods for lower cancer cases in people who eat such foods, it is a better option to eat conventional foods which may not always have cancer-causing chemicals in them. The benefits of conventional foods outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.

Berries, garlic, tomatoes, green tea, cruciferous veggies, turmeric, leafy greens, grapes whole grains like brown rice are some of the very few foods that have cancer-fighting properties.  They have anti-oxidants that capture free radicals that cause more harm to the body and have higher chances of leading to cancer. Since the inorganic produce we get ion our supermarkets are mixed with inorganic fertilizers and pesticides that were given to them as they grow, these chemicals are stored in them and enter our bodies and create complications like cancer-based on the type of chemicals used in the pesticides.

Starting from herbs and spices to fruits and vegetables, the Indian food is rich with anti- cancer-causing and anti-inflammatory properties that naturally provide our bodies with some level of cancer shield. With the advent of fast food and western food that is grown in inorganic ways, it is no doubt that organic food needs to be re-established I our food system to tackle the cancer problem that we see today.

It is a clear reality to be observed that cancer cases have risen astronomically in the past decade as the rates of inorganic and fast foods have popularly increased and they are easier to find and buy, unlike the organic counterpart. With overpopulation and shortage of food resources on the rise, gaining access to organic food is a costly process that is imperative in order to reduce our risk of getting cancer through the very food we rely on for survival. It is time we spend more on making sure we eat good food, organic food not just in hopes of preventing cancer but also to lead a physically and mentally active and healthy life.