Eating fresh, organic foods is key to overall health.
A new study from Boise State University is one of the first to predict how much pesticides a person consumes, according to their diets.
The study led by Cynthia Curl, an associate professor at Boise State, shows that organic foods reduce exposure to pesticides.
Curl and her research team looked at pesticide exposure of 4,500 people from 6 different U.S. cities. They focused on organophosphates (OPs), the most common insecticide used on U.S. produce.
OP pesticides have already been associated with detrimental effects to agricultural workers.
The research team had the participants eat similar amounts of fruits and vegetables. They found that organic foods reduce exposure to pesticides. There was a significant difference between organic foods and conventionally grown foods.
“For most Americans, diet is the primary source of OP pesticide exposure,” explained Curl. “The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference in the levels of pesticides in our bodies.”
The research team was able to predict the average amount of pesticide exposure by combining the foods that the participants usually ate, and the USDA measurements of pesticides in these foods.
Curl’s research is significant, because by comparing self-reported dietary information and USDA measurements, researchers will be able to study the links between pesticide exposure and health issues.
“If we can predict pesticide exposure using dietary questionnaire data, then we may be able to understand the potential health effects of dietary exposure to pesticides without having to collect biological samples from people,” Curl said. “That will allow research on organic food to be both less expensive and less invasive.”
“The next step is to use these exposure predictions to examine the relationship between dietary exposure to pesticides and health outcomes, including neurological and cognitive endpoints. We’ll be able to do that in this same population of nearly 4,500 people,” she said.
Curl recommends using the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List when making the decision on which foods to eat organic.
This study showing that organic foods reduce exposure to pesticides was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
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1. “Study Helps Predict Pesticide Exposure in Diet.” Boise State University. Boise State University, 05 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 Feb. 2015.
2. “Estimating Pesticide Exposure from Dietary Intake and Organic Food Choices: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).” Environmental Health Perspectives. Environmental Health Perspectives, 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 Feb. 2015.
3. “EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.” Environmental Working Group. Environmental Working Group, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2015.