The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston Should Be Ashamed of Itself


A close friend of mine sent me a link to a post on the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute blog the other day, and reading it made me incredibly angry.

Having grown up in Boston and aware that Dana-Farber is one of the leading cancer hospitals in the world, I am fully aware that criticizing this renowned institution is pretty much heresy.

But I feel obligated to do it anyway because the blog post is factually incorrect and morally reprehensible.

The post is titled “Are Organic Foods Better For You?” and goes on to say that “there is no scientific evidence that eating organic foods increases health benefits.” This is completely and utterly false.

Here are a just a few examples:

– Research done at Washington State University found that organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds.

– Research completed at the University of Barcelona showed that organic tomatoes had higher levels of phenolic compounds than conventional tomatoes.

It is widely believed that regular consumption of polyphenols —natural antioxidants of plant origin— is associated with the prevention of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer.

Aside from this scientific evidence, which proves that organic is indeed superior, I find it troubling that a cancer institution would endorse anything but organic.

Conventionally-grown produce uses synthetic pesticides. And make no mistake about it, these pesticides are poisonous. If you consume enough of them, you will die.

In the must-see documentary Bitter Seeds, this is how many of the 250,000 farmers in India have committed suicide – they drank the same pesticides that they had been spraying on their genetically-modified crops.

Who else shares this view that pesticides should be avoided?

How about a truly independent organization such as the President’s Cancer Panel (PDF File)?

The President’s Cancer Panel says to choose “food grown without pesticides” because it doesn’t believe that pesticides, even in small amounts, are safe.

Furthermore, it goes on to say that “Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides) approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contain nearly 900 active ingredients, many of which are toxic. Many of the solvents, fillers, and other chemicals listed as inert ingredients on pesticide labels also are toxic, but are not required to be tested for their potential to cause chronic diseases such as cancer.”

Dana-Farber’s blog post insinuates that eating organic is not really necessary and that eating conventionally-grown is the same thing. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially when one takes into account the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer.

As someone who lost his mother to ovarian cancer, I am completely appalled that Dana-Farber could put out such an irresponsible message.

It should be ashamed.


  • After reading your comments, we took another look and made a few changes to more accurately reflect our meaning.

    ( )

    One of the points that we were trying to make is that people should eat more fruits and vegetables, and we didn’t want people to be discouraged from eating them if all they could find was conventionally grown items. Bottom line: it’s better to eat conventional fruits and vegetables than none at all, but it was not our intention to imply that there is no difference between the two.

    Thanks for your blog post.

    –Michael Buller
    Communications Dept
    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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