Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out!
The most recent systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses have indicated significant and
nutritionally-relevant composition differences between organic and conventional foods. This
included higher antioxidant, but lower cadmium and pesticide levels in organic crops, and higher
omega-3 fatty acids concentrations in organic meat and dairy products. Also, results from a small
number of human cohort studies indicate that there are positive associations between organic food
consumption and reduced risk/incidence of certain acute diseases (e.g. pre-eclampsia, hypospadias)
and obesity. Concerns about potential negative health impacts of organic food consumption (e.g.
risks linked to lower iodine levels in organic milk) have also been raised, but are not currently
supported by evidence from human cohort studies. However, there is virtually no published data
from (1) long-term cohort studies focusing on chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions) and (2) controlled human dietary intervention
studies comparing effects of organic and conventional diets. It is therefore currently not possible to
quantify to what extent organic food consumption may affect human health.
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