Food and Chemical Toxicology: Estimation of Cancer Risks and Benefits Associated With a Potential Increased Consumption of Produce

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Despite decades of nutritional studies supporting the recommendation to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control reports that only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough produce each day. While there is a large body of research showing some barriers to consumption (convenience, cost, etc), a peer reviewed study in Nutrition Today shows that fear-based messaging regarding produce safety, specifically pesticide residue concerns, results in low income consumers stating they are less likely to eat any fruits and vegetables – organic or conventionally grown. This study, and others, is raising concerns among health experts that fear is now another barrier to consuming adequate fruits and veggies in the daily diet of consumers.

But what is the risk/benefit of consuming a diet rich in conventionally grown produce and pesticide residue exposure? This peer reviewed study examined that question. The findings:

  • If half of all Americans increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables by a single serving each day, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year.
  • The overwhelming difference between benefit and risk estimates provides confidence that consumers should not be concerned about cancer risks from consuming conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables.

This study is now added to the overwhelming amount of nutritional research that supports greater produce consumption in the diets of Americans to prevent disease and improve health. It also supports a wealth of other peer reviewed toxicology studies which shows the safety of conventionally grown produce.