Sunday, October 20, 2019

Are organics healthier?

A few weeks ago, New Scientist published a bad letter to the editor regarding the healthiness of organics. In the latest issue, they published this nice counter (this is not to argue one side or the other, just to point out that you can cherry-pick small studies to support your preferred choice, but the science is rarely as clear as we would like):

Ann Wills mentions a study that compared consumption of organic food with cancer rates in a sample of nearly 70,000 people (Letters, 14 September). She doesn’t mention a much larger UK study of 625,000 women (British Journal of This compared those who only ever ate organic food with those who never did and reported on the incidence of 16 different cancers over a nine-year period.
In that time, 50,000 women developed cancer, but there was no statistically significant difference between the groups, except for small increases in breast cancer. There was a lower rate of lymphoma in the organic eaters, although the number of lymphomas was too small to judge statistical significance. As with the breast cancer, this may be due to chance variations. Organic associations promote the idea that their food is healthier, which isn’t scientifically sustainable. Trying to get people to eat their five-a-day by recommending more expensive organic produce is inevitably counterproductive.


Anonymous said...

I have already read that the whole point of organic is for the environment. Conventional agriculture is far more polluting for the water, soil, and air. It's not about the health of the eater directly.

For just one example, the gigantic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is from artificial fertilizer run-off. Organic doesn't use artificial fertilizer.

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