March 28/Oxford, England/Oxford University -- Women who eat organic foods always or most of the time have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods, according to an Oxford University study.
Kathryn Bradbury and colleagues in Oxford's Cancer Epidemiology Unit found no evidence that a diet grown free from pesticides reduced a woman's overall risk of cancer.
The researchers asked around 600,000 women aged 50 or over whether they ate organic foods as part of the Million Women Study. They looked at how many of the women developed 16 of the most common types of cancer in a nine-year period following the survey. Approximately 50,000 women developed cancer in this period.
The study found no difference in overall cancer risk when comparing 180,000 women who reported never eating organic food with around 45,000 women who reported usually or always eating organically grown food.
When looking at the results for 16 individual types of cancer they found a small increase in risk for breast cancer but a reduction in the risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in women who mostly ate organic food, although these results could be partly due to chance and other factors. The results are published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Study author Professor Tim Key of the University of Oxford said, "In this large study of middle-aged women in the U.K., we found no evidence that a woman's overall cancer risk was decreased if she generally ate organic food."