Low Levels of Pollutants and Cancer

In his book Disease-Proof Your Child, Dr. Fuhrman suggests feeding children organic food when possible, to safeguard them from chemicals and pesticides. More and more scientists contend that even low levels of contaminants pose a cancer risk. Patty Curtis of The Guardian Unlimited reports:

Liverpool University scientists argue that low levels of chemicals from pesticides and plastics could affect the development of babies before they are born and increase their likelihood of developing cancer later in life.


The organochlorines also accumulate in breast milk, raising the possibility that babies are vulnerable while breastfeeding, Professor Vyvyan Howard and John Newby say.

The scientists suggest parents might consider going organic to avoid contamination.
We're talking about chemicals which could potentially cause cancer in children at parts per billion and parts per trillion levels, rather than parts per million and thousands," Professor Howard, who is on the government's advisory committee on pesticides, told the Guardian. "Preventative measures for these types of cancer have focused on educating the public about the danger of tobacco smoke, improving diet and promoting physical activity. We should now, however, be focusing on trying to reduce exposure to problematic chemicals."

In the end the study does not conclusively prove the link between low levels of pollutants and cancer in humans, but animal studies have confirmed a link.

For more information on the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals check out these posts: Is Organic Food Safer? and Early Exposure to Pesticide: Revisited

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Helena - March 23, 2006 4:29 PM

"The organochlorines also accumulate in breast milk, raising the possibility that babies are vulnerable while breastfeeding, Professor Vyvyan Howard and John Newby say"

In my country, there was a large study about the long term neurological and developmental effects of contaminants in breast milk. Breast milk is the highest contaminated food of all. Many people were afraid of the effects of all those nasty chemicals and heavy metals. Surprisingly, they saw no effect at all in a long term nine year study. They did see negative health effects from prenatal exposure to chemicals. The conclusion of the study was that it is probable that components from breast milk actively protect against the contaminants. I think it is not unreasonable to assume that such components also exist in other phytochemical rich foods (like chlorophyll actively protects against aflatoxin).

Granted, this study was not about cancer, but the studies that are done suggest a protective effect from breastmilk on cancer, even though all those studies are done with contaminated breastmilk (because practically all breastmilk is contaminated).

Of course it is better to eat organic. Not just for your health, but also for the environment. I do buy organic when possible, but there was a time when I was so scared of pesticides, that I would strictly limit myself to four to five portions of organic fruits and vegetables a day, because that was already stretching my budget. As a result of that, I also ate lots of bread (cheap, and I had to get my calories from somewhere). I am convinced my child and I eat healthier now that we eat lots of produce, even though it is non organic.

I would also like to add that there are different types of non organic foods. I try to buy local foods from farmers here, those tend to be less contaminated than foods from China and Chili, or even Spain (I'm from Europe) and they are even better for the environment than organic foods from further away.

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