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