There has been a lot of controversial reports on the benefits of buying organic produce. The issues have mainly been around price and whether there was any health benefit to eating organically. Clearly mass producers of fruit and vegetables around the world have taken any opportunity to knock organic growers, particularly local producers who are classed as amateurs. But in a recent study in France, evidence does point towards a significant reduction in cancer rates in those who consume organic produce.
I love farmer’s markets, and will always buy organic produce where I can. I was brought up in the country and our fresh fruit and vegetables were picked or harvested and on the table within a matter of a couple of days. Today much of the fruit (especially out of season) can be months old. The same can be said for vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles before being packed in plastic on the supermarket shelves. Unfortunately, this also impacts their nutritional content. How fresh are your supermarket apples
At least today regulations demand that country of origin be displayed somewhere on the packaging, but good luck with finding the small print without a magnifying glass.
Some supermarkets will make it a strategy to use local produce and Tesco here in Ireland does source both fresh produce, dairy and meats where possible from Irish farmers.
In the largest study of its kind Daily Mail, 70,000 French men and women who answered a questionnaire indicating that they ate only organic produce, have been followed for 7 years. The results so far indicate that there is a significant reduction in overall cancer rates, although bowel cancer and prostate cancer do not appear to be reduced. This may be because there is a genetic or other lifestyle element that impacts the results.
“Eating only organic food could slash cancer risk, a new study claims.
The biggest impact was seen on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk, which plummeted among those who only ate organic, according to the survey of nearly 70,000 French adults. Overall, their risks of breast cancer also dropped.
The finding comes amid a flurry of interest in the cancer risks of pesticides, spurred by this summer’s Monsanto trial, when a jury awarded a cancer-suffering groundsman $250 million after concluding that Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer.”
However, one cancer that plummeted according to the report was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is understandable as it is a cancer of the immune system. Lymph nodes are clusters of the white blood cells lymphocytes (B cells and T cells) and are dotted around the body in the chest, abdomen and pelvis and they are linked by special vessels to form a closed system much like the bloodstream. This means that there is lymph tissue in several of the major organs of the body, particularly the spleen and bone marrow which are essential to our immune system function. Cancer in the form of lymphomas can form in any of these sites and be transported around the body in the lymphatic system. With a compromised immune system it is impossible to fight off even the mildest of infections.
The other area of high risk is neurological and here is an abstract taken from a research study on the impact on our brains and nervous system. The full report can be read HERE
Poisoning by acute high-level exposure to certain pesticides has well-known neurotoxic effects, but whether chronic exposure to moderate levels of pesticides is also neurotoxic is more controversial. Most studies of moderate pesticide exposure have found increased prevalence of neurologic symptoms and changes in neurobehavioral performance, reflecting cognitive and psychomotor dysfunction. There is less evidence that moderate exposure is related to deficits in sensory or motor function or peripheral nerve conduction, but fewer studies have considered these outcomes. It is possible that the most sensitive manifestation of pesticide neurotoxicity is a general malaise lacking in specificity and related to mild cognitive dysfunction, similar to that described for Gulf War syndrome. Most studies have focused on organophosphate insecticides, but some found neuro-toxic effects from other pesticides, including fungicides, fumigants, and organochlorine and carbamate insecticides. Pesticide exposure may also be associated with increased risk of Parkinson disease; several classes of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, have been implicated. Studies of other neurodegenerative diseases are limited and inconclusive. Future studies will need to improve assessment of pesticide exposure in individuals and consider the role of genetic susceptibility. More studies of pesticides other than organophosphates are needed. Major unresolved issues include the relative importance of acute and chronic exposure, the effect of moderate exposure in the absence of poisoning, and the relationship of pesticide-related neurotoxicity to neurodegenerative disease.
Research and fake news.
Whilst the increase in age related dementia, and an increase in cancers, can be attributed to better diagnosis and reporting, there is no doubt in my mind that lifestyle is the major factor and cause of these diseases. There is a genetic link to some neurological diseases and cancer, but our bodies are being exposed to many carcinogens created by modern mass farming methods, food production, packaging and additives including chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.
Most research into disease is commissioned by interested parties. Within the food industry there is billions spent on research programmes annually to prove or disprove links to health and to counteract fake news put out by competing parties. It is not helped when official guardians of our health are less that open about findings and they change their guidelines on carbohydrates, protein and fats at the drop of a hat!
Also the majority of the participants are not ideal test subjects. I am not convinced that they are screened to the fullest extent required to take part in the trial, since most people are not entirely honest about what they ingest or imbibe or about past lifestyle choices. This means that the results of their participation have to be skewed. This is why I rarely report on research that does not have substantive participation such as this French study of 70,000 over a decent interval of 7 years.
The other point is that some of the effects of pesticides and other chemicals may take many years to manifest themselves. Particularly in relation to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia. We should be looking at 30 to 50 year research studies which would be more conclusive.
Also of concern is that we only have 5 year human trials for medication to counteract these diseases, which may well have their own long term side-effects, not apparent until we reach our 70s or 80s.
My conclusion is that at whatever age you are, changing to organic produce such as vegetables and fruit, locally sourced and unpackaged is an important first step.
The second step which is equally important is to cook from scratch whenever possible using the 80/20 rule to limit exposure to manufactured food products.
Third step is to trust your gut… literally. If you react to certain foods then don’t eat them. D.G. Kaye contributed to the Health Column recently about her 20 years of managing her Crohn’s Disease. If you have been suffering from IBS or other intestinal problems then you will find this useful. Dietary restrictions, consequences and the eye rollers
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018
My nutritional background
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/