Study: Health benefits outweigh risks for produce - The Packer

Study: Health benefits outweigh risks for produce

10/15/2012 04:01:00 PM
Tom Karst

A new study concludes that consumers have a much better chance to reduce their risk of cancer by eating one more serving fruit and vegetables a day than worrying about cancer risks from pesticide residues on produce.

The study estimated 20,000 cases of cancer per year could be prevented in the U.S. if just half of the U.S. population increased its fruit and vegetable consumption by one serving a day, according to a news release from the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation.

The study also looked at the likely relationship between pesticide residues and cancer, and concluded the upper limit of 10 cases or less per year could result from residues.

The research used estimates from a 2011 World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute of Cancer Research published report, according to the release from PBH.

“Fear of cancer from pesticides unfortunately affects the perception of some consumers towards fruits and vegetables; this analysis shows that the opposite is true,” Rick Reiss, principal scientist, Exponent, said in the report. “Consuming a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is a way to prevent cancer and to lead a generally healthier life.”

“This study beautifully demonstrates relative risk: 20,000 to 10 or less,” PBH President Elizabeth Pivonka said in the release. “In fact, the true benefits are underestimated, given the role fruit and vegetables play in weight control, reduced risk of heart disease and overall cellular function in addition to cancer prevention.”

Pivonka said in the release that it is much more important to make fruits and vegetables at least half of what you eat than to be distracted with concerns about pesticide residues.

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Nick Dulcich    
Delano CA  |  October, 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM

This messsage is the message that needs to broadcast to the public. So many consumers have been confused by a media which is reporting negatively about our food.

USA  |  October, 16, 2012 at 02:43 PM

The press is only reporting the facts of recalled products, because of contamination and people are getting sick and die. Is it the fault of the consumer avoiding products they are almost every week in a recall? With all the recall cost the prices in the supermarket skyrocket. Less people can afford fresh produce or even buy higher quantities. Produce safer food and you’ll get out of the negative press. This paid for study won’t help much to regain consumer confidence. I just received an email with a link to a story in Bloomberg News:

Brian Wickert    
viroqua, wi  |  October, 17, 2012 at 07:34 AM

As an organic producer, this report says organic production is not important so...who is the Produce for Better Health and who funds it? How long have they been in existence? What other reports have they published? Was there any peer review or their interpretation of the data they used to come to this conclusion? I have no issue that eating more vegetables and fruit will improve the health of many people but how they make the jump to organics is not important is a bit sketchy or illogical thinking in my opinion. In this day and age I do not trust most "so called experts" in many fields so I am always looking for verifiable sources of information and how the conclusion was drawn . This news release seems very low on verifiable truth and not very scientific on their conclusion. Respectfully yours Brian Wickert

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, Kan.  |  October, 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Brian, The PBH is the group behind the "5 a Day" and "Fruits & Veggies — More Matters" campaigns. For the most part, they are funded by the fresh/frozen/canned produce industries. More information and a list of donors is at The PBH did not commission the study. PBH periodically issues releases on issues that promote consumption of fruits and vegetables. I will note, however, that the organization that did the study, Exponent ( is funded in part by companies that produce pesticides, and it has conducted pesticide research in the past. Chris Koger News Editor

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