Organic food myths for cancer patients

This content is sponsored by Regional Cancer Care Associates

Whether you want to reduce your risk of developing cancer or want to improve your chances of survival after a diagnosis, you’ve likely researched the role nutrition plays in your health.

For example, being overweight increases the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colon and rectal, endometrium, esophageal, kidney, and pancreatic cancers, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research.

But can certain foods, like those grown organically, prevent cancer or improve the chances of surviving?

Organic food has been touted as good for the environment and your health. However, there are some pervasive myths about the benefits of organic food.

Myth: Eating organic produce offers protection against cancer.

While eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet, organic food won’t give any extra cancer-fighting help.

“People who pursue organic foods are more likely to make better eating choices in general, but I don’t know of any specific added benefits of organic foods,” said Dr. Paul Bannen, an oncologist with Regional Cancer Care Associates.

The American Institute for Cancer Research echoes Dr. Bannen stating that there is little research on organics and cancer risk and that the only conclusion that can be drawn at this time is eating a diet of mostly plants and vegetables, organic or conventional, reduces the risk of cancer.

Keep in mind that fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which research shows can protect cells from harmful toxins in the environment as well as prevent cell mutations and damage.

Myth: Organic food is more nutritious than other food.

Research has yet to show strong evidence for any added nutritional benefit from organic food, but studies are ongoing.

Scientists are trying to discover whether foods grown without fertilizers, hormones and synthetic pesticides have different levels of carbohydrates, minerals or vitamins than other foods, according to Harvard Health, but so far “they don’t appear to have a nutritional advantage over their conventional counterparts.”

This means you don’t need to buy organic food to get the most nutrition for your dollar. However, if you’re immunosuppressed, as

Myth: Organic food is healthier because it exposes people to fewer pesticides.

Organic food does expose you to fewer pesticides, especially organophosphates, which have been linked to adverse health outcomes, however according to AICR the concern is mostly for agricultural workers who are regularly exposed to the chemicals. There is no evidence that the trace exposure the average person receives from eating food treated with organophosphates leads to detrimental health effects.

The Food Quality Protection Act, passed in 1996, “requires that the EPA ensure that levels of pesticides on food are safe for children and infants,” according to Consumer Reports.

For more information on cancer prevention and treatment, or to discuss your risk factors, visit Regional Cancer Care Associates.

Here’s what USDA says: recommendations for food safety for people with cancer include the following:

  • consumption only of pasteurized juices and dairy products; (b) washing hands in warm soapy water before handling, preparing, and eating food; (b) consuming food that has not passed the expiration date; and (d) storing raw meat, fish, and chicken carefully in wrapped containers to avoid spillage of juice onto other foods.

Basically they should follow general good food safety practices.

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