FOODS IN CANCER
UMHS Healthy Eating Tip of the Month
What does organic
engineering, and irradiation in
Organic vs. Natural
Natural does not mean organic. The term “natural” applies broadly to foods that are free of
artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and ingredients that do not occur naturally in the
foods. Natural meat and poultry must be minimally processed in a method that does not
fundamentally change the raw product. However, organic refers not only to the food itself, but also
to how it was produced. Only organic guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticide or chemical fertilizers
are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals.
Eating a diet that is mainly from plants – whether they are organic or conventional – is what is
Organic vs. conventional
What is important is to eat fruits, vegetables,
and other plant foods regardless of whether
they are grown conventionally or organically.
Aim for at least five servings of fruits and
vegetables daily. Vegetables, fruits, and
whole grains should form the central part of
a person's diet, regardless of whether they
are grown conventionally or organically.
Since plant foods offer vitamins, minerals,
fiber, and phytochemicals, these foods have
been known as cancer-fighting foods. Also,
replacing higher calorie foods with healthful
plant foods can help with weight control,
which can help protect against some cancers
organic food is health, there is no evidence
to show eating organic foods reduces the risk
Organic related marketing terms
Free range: Producers must demonstrate
to the US Department of Agriculture
(USDA) that the poultry has been
allowed access to the outside.
Certified: “Certified” implies that the
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection
Service and the Agriculture Marketing
Service have officially evaluated a meat
Natural: A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and only minimally processed
(a process that does not fundamentally alter the raw product).
No hormones (beef): The term “no hormones administered” may be approved for use on the label of
beef products if the producer can provide documentation showing no hormones have been used in
raising the animals.
No hormones (pork or poultry): Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore
the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed
by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
No antibiotics (red meat and poultry): The terms “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for
meat or poultry products if the animals were raised without antibiotics.
Should I eat only organic fruits and vegetables to avoid
exposure to pesticides?
Some studies have shown that organic foods has a lower amount of pesticides, but research
has not confirmed that lower amounts of pesticides are causally related to preventing
certain diseases or conditions, including cancer
Although eating organic foods reduces your risk of ingesting commercially produced
pesticides and chemicals, there is not clear evidence to either support or refute eating
organic foods to prevent cancer.
Although the primary motivation and concern for consumer’s purchasing of organic food is
health, there is no evidence to show eating organic foods reduces the risk of cancer.
If you choose organic, remember that organic foods contain exactly the same amount of
calories, fat and sugar as conventional brands.
Tips for reducing pesticide residues
Washing: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all fresh fruits and
vegetables be thoroughly rinsed under running water rather than soaking or dunking to
remove most surface residues along with dirt and bacterial contamination. They also advise
against using soaps and detergents to wash produce since they contain chemicals not safe for
Peeling and trimming: Discard the outer layers of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce or
cabbage. Peeling fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, potatoes, and carrots will help to
remove the surface residues. Some fiber will be lost in peeling .
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: This will give you a better mix of nutrients and
also reduce your potential exposure to a single pesticide.
1. Bradbury, K. E., et al. "Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large
prospective study of women in the United Kingdom." British journal of cancer 110.9
2. Curl, Cynthia, et al. "Estimating pesticide exposure from dietary intake and organic food
choices: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)."Environmental health
5. Forman, Joel, et al. "Organic foods: health and environmental advantages and
disadvantages." Pediatrics 130.5 (2012): e1406-e1415.
Pouneh Shamloufard, Dietetic Intern
Patient Food and Nutrition Services
300 N. Ingalls Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5707