ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found that eating an organic diet does not reduce the risk of cancer.

Researchers monitored the health of 600,000 women aged 50 or older for nine years asking whether they ate pesticide-free organic food. Roughly 50,000 of the women developed one of the 16 most common cancers during the study period in total.

No difference in overall cancer risk was found between a comparison of 45,000 women who “always” or “usually” chose organic food and 180 women who never ate organic food.

“In this large study of middle-aged women in the UK we found no evidence that a woman’s overall cancer risk was decreased if she generally ate organic food,” Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK-funded scientist at Oxford University, said.

Researchers did find a small increased risk of breast cancer was seen in organic consumers, but they explained it could be contributed to other factors. They also found a reduction in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma was linked to eating organic, but noted that it may not be a real association.

“More research is needed to follow-up our findings of a possible reduction in risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” Key added.

Dr. Claire Knight, the charity’s health information manager, explained how important this study is to those who believed eating organic reduced cancer risk.

“This study adds to the evidence that eating organically grown food doesn’t lower your overall cancer risk,” Knight said. “Scientists have estimated that over 9% of cancer cases in the UK may be linked to dietary factors, of which almost 5% are linked to not eating enough fruit and vegetables. So eating a well-balanced diet which is high in fruit and vegetables – whether conventionally grown or not – can help reduce cancer risk.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer

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