Is Organic More Cancer-Protective? (And … Does it Matter?)

A study by researchers at Stanford University which appeared in Monday’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine hit on one of the biggest hot-button issues in nutrition today: organic foods, and their merits. Much of the media coverage has centered on what this large study says about the relative benefits of organic vs. conventionally grown foods in human health.

But that’s not what this study is really about. In fact, only 17 of the 240 studies examined by the researchers involved humans at all (the rest examined the nutrient profiles and pesticide levels of various foods). And of those 17, only 3 involved human health outcomes (eczema, wheezing and atopy, or “hyperallergenic” reactions). And any conclusions about the nutrient profiles of various foods will always be hampered by the fact that, as this NPR piece points out, the profiles of any two tomatoes sitting in the same pile in your grocery’s produce aisle will vary widely, for a host of reasons, regardless of whether they’re organic or conventional.

So it’s not quite the slam-dunk “Organics Are Not Healthier For You!” study some in the media are portraying it to be. It’s simply a serious analysis of the available literature, and it should be welcomed.

After the jump, some key findings of Monday’s study — and a call for cooler heads. Continue reading

PSA Screening: There’s More to Prostate Cancer Prevention

Today the US Preventive Services Task Force — an advisory panel of cancer experts — released a new recommendation that men should no longer routinely undergo a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer.¬† The federally appointed panel concluded that the harms of¬†unnecessary surgeries or other interventions outweigh the benefits of the test.

The Task Force released the recommendation in today’s issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The American Urological Society is one organization saying the Task Force is taking an extreme position, and that regular PSA screening for men 50 and over saves lives.

While the back-and-forth continues, we at AICR believe that the decision of how often to screen for this and other cancers remains a personal one, and one that is best decided in consultation with one’s healthcare provider. Continue reading

Popcorn: Hero or Villain?

If you’ve been following the health news over this past week, you’ve heard two conflicting messages about the humble, quintessentially American snack, popcorn.

It’s a conflict straight out of a superhero flick: Yesterday, popcorn was a caloric villain determined to wreak havoc on our innocent waistlines. Today, it’s a nutritional champion, valiantly defending our bodies from damage.

So which is it?

Earlier this month, in a bid to urge lawmakers to require movie theaters to list calorie counts on menu boards, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) launched an awareness campaign. In its materials, such as this video, CSPI singled out one alarming data point: A medium popcorn without added butter from Regal Cinemas weighs in at an astonishing 1200 calories. That’s the equivalent of four fast-food cheesburgers and 5 slices of Papa John’s pepperoni pizza. Continue reading