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Do Organic Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Cancer?

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Updated March 07, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Question: Do organic fruits and vegetables prevent cancer?

I recently started eating an all-organic diet. Will eating organic fruits and vegetables better reduce my risk of cancer than eating non-organic ones?

Answer: First, you should know that organic and non-organic foods are equal in nutritional value. The organic banana you ate this morning will not provide better nutrition than the non-organic banana you passed up at the supermarket. Previous studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables were packed with a higher nutritional content, but these studies have been debated and refuted. If there is a nutritional content advantage, then it is likely to be very marginal and not make much of a difference.

However, organic fruits and vegetables have not been exposed to pesticides and chemicals, which some consumers believe may be harmful to their health. So, will eating non-organic fruits and vegetables cause cancer?

The chemicals used in non-organically grown foods have been thoroughly studied. The consensus among major peer-reviewed studies is that consuming non-organic fruits and vegetables is not harmful to your health. However, this is debated by organic food advocates, and some people refuse to believe that these foods are safe to consume. With the scientific data that is available to us today, consumers need to make a personal choice of whether to buy organic or not. There is no evidence that would force the FDA and USDA to change their regulations about the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agricultural production.

When used in the wrong capacity, pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to your health. However, the amount of chemical residue found on fruits and vegetables is low. Most experts agree the nutritional benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh the risk of consuming chemical residue on non-organically grown produce. It is important to always wash your fruits and vegetables before consuming them, however.

The American Cancer Society's Stance on Organic Food

The American Cancer Society recommends a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables to help reduce your risk of cancer. Here's what they have to say about organically grown produce:

"The term organic is popularly used to designate plant foods grown without pesticides and genetic modifications. At this time, no research exists to demonstrate whether such foods are more effective in reducing cancer risk than are similar foods produced by other farming methods."

Source:

American Cancer Society. ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. May 19, 2006. Accessed July 31, 2010.
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