Are there benefits to eating organic foods as a part of cancer therapy?

This content is sponsored by Regional Cancer Care Associates

Until 2001, “organic” was a loose term farms and grocery stores could use without regulatory oversight. Today, however, the National Organic Program regulates the production, handling, labeling and enforcement of all United States Department of Agriculture organic products, guaranteeing that all products labeled organic meet the same standards.

In general, organic foods are produced using only substances (both synthetic and non-synthetic) that have been , including additives and sweeteners. This includes no use of antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified organisms. Instead, organic farming  practices include using natural fertilizers in natural environments. Organic meat comes from animals that are raised without antibiotics or hormones.

At this time the American Institute for Cancer Research says that there is little evidence that eating organic foods lowers cancer risk However, Researchers are still looking into what benefits organic foods could offer to consumers. Their results could especially interest cancer patients – a group of people for whom nutrition is a crucial consideration.

Here are a few possible benefits being studied in organic foods with implications for healthy people and those facing serious health concerns

Lowers pesticide exposure

Almost all conventional produce is treated with some amount of pesticides to increase production and lower crop loss due to insect damage. The limits on the amount of pesticide residue allowed on store-bound produce are considered safe by government agencies

Produce labeled organic cannot have exposure to pesticides, so you would have a lower exposure to dietary pesticides when your diet is made up of primarily organic products.

Benefits the environment

Using farm land sustainably is an important part of making sure there is plenty of food available for future generations. Organic agriculture encourages healthy soil use and prevents harmful chemicals from leaching into ground water.

“Organic agriculture takes a proactive approach as opposed to treating problems after they emerge,” according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. For instance, it reduces non-renewable energy use, mitigates greenhouse and global warming effects and encourages biodiversity.

Improves diet quality

Vegetables and Fruits

One of the most important ways to protect your health is to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. These foods are full of the vitamins and minerals that support overall health and contain many compounds that have cancer preventive qualities.

“In foods like these, you’ll find important nutrients like vitamin A, which helps with eyesight and the immune system; vitamin C, which supports cell division; vitamin K, which helps with clotting; folate, which improves red blood cell production and cell division; and magnesium, which reduces the risk of diabetes and and vitamin D may reduce the recurrence  of certain types of cancer,” said Dr. Paul Bannen, an oncologist at Regional Cancer Care Associates.

Cancer patients may have a hard time getting enough nutrition when they don’t feel well, so it’s important that they get as much value as they can in what they are able to eat.

“Nutrition is a cornerstone of cancer therapy in terms of healing, stamina and recovery. I want patients to eat good, sensible food,” Bannen said. “It’s important to maintain weight. Weight is an important indicator of how well a patient is tolerating treatment.”

Bottom Line

Whether choosing organic foods or generally focusing on consuming plenty of plant foods, cancer patients and all people can take care of their bodies, the environment and future generations at the same time.

For more information AICR’s Third Expert Report, Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective, which was released earlier this year, assessed the past decade of cancer prevention research and the links between diet, nutrition, physical activity, and cancer.

Regional Cancer Care offers high quality care and customized treatment plans for every patient. Call or visit for more information about how to stay healthy during and after cancer treatment.



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