How Far Should You Go with the Organic Craze? – Cancer Defeated

How Far Should You Go with the Organic Craze?

By Lee Euler / February 19, 2012

At first glance, it looks like the concept of organic living is getting out of hand. Just look at the “organic” things you can buy these days:

  • Organic wool carpet
  • Organic silk duvet
  • Organic dog shampoo
  • Organic toilet paper
  • Organic beer

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These specialty items don’t come cheap. Are they worth the extra money — and bother? We took a look. . .

Continued below. . .

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Organic food enjoys the fastest rate of growth in the American food marketplace, with sales going up by roughly 20% a year (conventional food sales only grow about 2 to 3 percent each year). With trends like that, it makes sense that many businesspersons want to get in on the game.

Still, it’s confusing. If you’re doing your best to prevent or heal cancer, should you buy everything that’s organic? Does it make a difference? Will it hurt you if cut a few corners? It’s hard to sift through all the noise to figure out…

What’s in a name, anyway?

    “Organic” is becoming a catchphrase for anything with the slightest hint of natural origins. There have been attempts to define and regulate the term, but it’s still used very loosely. The standards the government has come up with are weak and inconsistent. Confusing organic-sounding labels are everywhere, and the standards that do exist are poorly enforced.

According to Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., Environmental Health Scientist at Consumers Union, “Not all organic products are created equal. It is important that consumers know where their organic dollars spent meet their expectations and where they don’t.”

Right now, if a product label says organic, the rule is that at least 95 percent of it must come from organic sources. But there are still problems in figuring out what that means, if anything. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has no way to verify organic labels for seafood.

And if you’re swayed by claims that something is “all natural” or “natural,” don’t be. There’s no standard way to define these terms across the board of consumer products (as you’ll see below). “Natural” does not equal “good for you.” Not even close. The word “natural” on a label conveys absolutely no useful health information.

Here’s a Consumer Reports guide we found to help you sort out the label issues:

  • “100% organic” means no synthetic ingredients are allowed by law
  • “Organic” means at least 95% of ingredients are organically produced
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” means at least 70% of ingredients are organic and the other 30% come from a list approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • “Free-range” or “free-roaming” means animals had an undetermined amount of daily outdoor access (doesn’t tell you much about the product, though)
  • “Natural” or “All Natural” doesn’t mean organic, as I mentioned above. There’s no standard definition, except for meat and poultry products. If those are labeled “natural” they may not contain any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients. Also note such labeling claims aren’t checked.

The unfair reality is you have to PAY to stay healthy

    It’s clear that “going organic” is a hot-button issue in the alternative treatment world. Plenty of folks tout the idea that you have to go all the way to reap any benefit. I don’t agree. There’s a well known concept called “toxic load.” If you eliminate 50% of the toxins, it’s a lot better than doing nothing at all. Your goal should be to reduce your toxic load. Don’t throw up your hands and say “why bother?” just because you can’t eliminate every toxin.

My own take is that an organic diet helps. If I had cancer I would strive for a 100 percent organic diet or as close to it as I could come, but I would see it as one thing among many that I need to do. There are reported cases of people completely recovering from cancer by dint of eating an organic diet, without doing much else. But to my way of thinking there are plenty of other things a cancer patient can do. I would certainly take advantage of them.

Right now I eat “semi-organic” — I’m not a fanatic about it, but I choose organic if it’s available and the quality is good. Probably 60% of what I eat is organic. I know full well that herbicides and pesticides are carcinogenic and I’m trying to get them out of my diet.

I like the idea of eating 100% organic. But it means a steep jump in price for most items and a loss of variety. Organic produce and almost everything else with the organic label costs just a little bit more than its conventional alternative. Sometimes a lot more.

The flip side is to argue that the price hike is worth it. After all, you’re paying for good health. And it’s a sad truth that it takes so much money to avoid pesticides in this day and age. Many’s the time a cashier at a health food store has told me my total, and I’ve joked that it was high enough to make dying look like an attractive alternative.

If you’re experiencing that kind of sticker shock at health food stores, aim for the middle ground. Concentrate on the “must-dos” in the organic world and pay less attention to things that don’t really make a measureable difference.

That means if you can’t afford to eat exclusively organic, at least stay away from the “dirty dozen” — a list that includes peaches, nectarines, blueberries, apples, grapes, cherries, strawberries, celery, bell peppers, spinach, kale and collard greens, and potatoes. These are the foods you should ALWAYS buy organic when possible.

On the other side, you’ve got the “clean fifteen” — onion, avocado, sweet peas, sweet corn, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, sweet potato, cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, kiwi fruit, watermelon, grapefruit, and honeydew. It’s okay to buy conventional forms of these produce items because they’re protected from pesticide residue by their outer, inedible skins.

When it comes to the safety of non-organic fruits and vegetables, a key factor is whether you eat the skin or not.

The “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists come from the annual report of the cleanest and dirtiest fruits and vegetables conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The pesticide enemy lurks everywhere you look

    Don’t try to duck the reality that pesticides cause cancer. It’s been proven over and over again — most notably in a study by the National Cancer Institute. The study found conclusive evidence that farmers and crop dusters have high rates of cancer and are more susceptible to a wide range of cancers.

There was also a USDA report from 2008 that showed conventional fruits and vegetables could contain as many as 67 different types of pesticides in just one product — and this was after washing and rinsing!

The reality is that pesticides are everywhere. Pesticides lurk in the foods we eat and the products we use. Strawberries are coated with pesticides during the growing and shipping process.

As further proof of all this, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 90% of fungicides, 60% of herbicides, and 30% of insecticides found on food crops are considered causes of cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that traces of more than ten fruit and vegetable pesticides are in the blood samples of 96% of our population (based on a sample of 5,000 Americans in the study).

That means virtually every man, woman and child in the United States has pesticides circulating in their blood.

Even meats are tinged with chemicals because livestock get doused in pesticides to protect their skin. Then they’re fed grain that’s packed with its own pesticide residue.

We also know meat products are some of the biggest carriers of other dangerous chemicals. Just a few weeks ago, in Issue 149, we reported there’s no doubt that at least one of the six growth hormones used in U.S. beef products causes cancer.

There’s no excuse for eating conventionally grown beef, chicken or pork. Most of us should eat much less meat anyway — two or three times a week, tops — and when we do, it should be organic and raised without antibiotics and hormones.

Organic standards are under attack

    There’s some benefit to organic products beyond just food. Organic toilet tissue, for instance, is said to be great for people with sensitive skin. It is free of inks, dyes, and perfumes, all of which can be irritants.


Yet, the same argument can be made for toilet paper made from recycled paper. It’s not officially called organic because it’s made of recycled, non-organic material (mostly post-consumer waste), but it does tend to be free of extra dyes and perfumes. It’s also the more eco-friendly option, because in the end, it all gets thrown away. At least the recycled version is making its second round to the bin.

BUT you can pass on stuff like organic cosmetics, shampoo, and other products you don’t ingest. Conventional shampoos and so forth do contain carcinogens, but if your dollars are limited, products you don’t eat probably do the least harm. (Full disclosure: I use organic soaps, detergents and shampoos. It’s not just about cancer. I have a bad reaction to the conventional products. I don’t have to wait 20 years to get sick from them. They make me sick within hours.)

I’m not sure organic beer and wine are worth it. If you really want to prevent cancer, a better move is to keep alcohol intake to a minimum.

I also suggest you comparison shop between stores and order by mail. Plenty of national providers ship items like organic beef. Two helpful sites for narrowing down organic choices are and the Organic Trade Association at

In the end, at least that means you’re doing SOMETHING in a world where every ounce of prevention goes a long way.

In our last issue we covered a colorful subject — medical marijuana. Or, to be more exact, hemp oil. If you missed it, scroll down and take a look now. I guarantee you’ll get a couple of surprises!

Is Marijuana a Good Cancer Treatment?

    Many advocates say a certain plant is a potent anti-cancer treatment — and they do have some facts to roll out to support their case. When I tell you the plant is cannabis, or marijuana, you won’t be surprised to learn the U.S. government hopes most Americans never hear the evidence.

Does it really have any medical benefit? We decided to look into it. . .

Continued below. . .

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Now this WON’T be a discussion about the merits of rolling dried weed and smoking it for a medically approved high! The “medical marijuana” movement is mostly a wedge to get the drug legalized for recreational use. It’s not my topic today. As I’ll explain, I don’t think inhaling the smoke is a good idea.

Rather, you’re about to learn about the powerful anti-cancer properties of hemp oil extracted from the cannabis plant. This very strong form of cannabis is supported by pre-clinical, in vitro, and animal studies.

According to Dr. Robert Melamede, associate professor of biology at the University of Colorado, “over 600 peer-reviewed articles show that numerous cancer types (lung, breast, prostate, glioma, thyroid, leukemia, lymphoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, etc.) are killed by cannabinoids in tissue culture and animal studies.”1

And medical marijuana proponent Rick Simpson said many of today’s Big Pharma heavyweights actually sold hemp-based medicines in the 1800’s and early 1900’s! So this might make you wonder…

Why all the HOOPLA about HEMP?

    The Latin name “Cannabis sativa” actually translates as “useful hemp.” The moniker is on target, considering that this plant provides fiber that is used to make clothing and shoes… seeds and oil that are helpful in foods and medicines… and even pulp to make paper.

Hemp oil is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. You probably know those as the “good fats” that help control cholesterol, fight inflammation and ward off heart disease.

But the plant’s anti-cancer properties lie deep inside its main psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol—or THC for short. Its benefits were highlighted in 2008 by some laboratory tests conducted by a team of scientists from Spain, France and Italy. According to results published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation2, THC stimulated death of brain cancer cells—while simultaneously leaving non-cancerous cells unharmed.

Alternative health practitioner Marc Sircus, Ac., OMD said the August 15, 2004 issue of Cancer Research3 similarly declared that THC stopped the spread of brain cancer in human tumor biopsies.

What’s more, THC also selectively prevented the gamma herpes virus from activating and multiplying. Researchers believe these viruses may increase the chances of developing cancers such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease.

But here’s the kicker: This is not new information…

Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said federal bureaucrats actually commissioned the first experiment documenting the anti-cancer effects of cannabis in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia.

According to study results published in an August 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper article, THC “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”

These findings were even published the following year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

So why is this scientifically supported anti-cancer treatment not a staple in hospitals and cancer treatment centers?

The war against weed rages on

    Despite the early findings about the positive health benefits of THC and hemp oil, the government continued to designate the herb as a “Schedule 1 controlled substance.” Armentano said this essentially classifies the plant as a drug with a “high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use.”

Since then, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to promote and protect the medical use of marijuana. Nevertheless, Armentano said this won’t necessarily stop Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) raids and arrests on medical marijuana suppliers and patients.

Federal law still trumps state law—and in this case, that still makes it illegal to possess or distribute marijuana. For that matter, the government has to grant permission for anyone to even conduct clinical research on marijuana.

Many advocates who support complete legalization of marijuana for medical use say the pharmaceutical industry is behind the federal frenzy against widespread use.

If the drug companies can’t make enough dough on a natural substance — they feel you’re better off without it!

Can hemp oil really be that safe and effective?

    Although hemp oil itself is a legal product, Andrew Weil, M.D., a professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said the type of hemp grown to produce oil has a low THC content that decreases throughout the production process. It’s not potent enough to be of medical use.

Rick Simpson advocates in-home extraction of hemp oil to ensure that higher concentrations of THC remain active. He has shared his process in the YouTube documentary Run from the Cure and has even shared samples of the oil with cancer patients.

But this is also why Simpson is living in Europe as a fugitive from the Canadian government.

Simpson is not a doctor and does not have a medical or scientific education. His administration of hemp oil treatments to cancer patients did not win him the favor of Canadian government officials.

Regardless of continued government resistance, some folks are convinced by anecdotal evidence and available studies that hemp oil is no snake oil! For that matter, many members of mainstream medicine agree that the cannabis plant may be useful to cancer patients suffering from anorexia, anxiety, depression, nausea, and pain.

But Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine urges caution in adopting this treatment.

Grinspoon said “while there is growing evidence from animal studies that [hemp oil] may shrink tumor cells and cause other promising salutary effects in some cancers, there is no present evidence that it cures any of the many different types of cancer. I think the day will come when it…will be demonstrated to have cancer-curative powers, but in the meantime, we must be very cautious about what we promise these patients.”4

My take is that a cannabis extract may someday take its place in the array of natural cancer treatments available to all — but we’re not there yet. Meanwhile, I think it would be hazardous and impractical for my readers to try to obtain high-potency hemp oil and experiment on themselves or their loved ones.

As for the kind of cannabis you smoke, it seems to me the damage to the respiratory system (and possibly to other body systems) is likely to outweigh any benefits. I’ve also seen plenty of evidence that it accelerates the aging process, most likely by creating a massive cascasde of free radicals, much the way tobacco smoke does. Inhaling smoke is not a healthy idea, even if it is a delivery system for a drug that might help fight cancer.

Having come of age during the hippie era, I can tell you the drug does a great deal of harm. I’m convinced it’s addictive — despite what some advocates claim — and in most cases it turns frequent users into bumbling underachievers.

Put a pothead side by side with a non-user of the same age and you’ll be shocked by the difference. A 25-year-old non-user looks like a rosy-cheeked child compared to a 25-year-old pothead. A 60-year-old pothead looks like someone 85.

But the medical uses of the drug do make a fascinating subject, and someday I hope researchers are able to legally find out whether a cannabis extract is a good cancer treatment.

Kindest regards,

Lee Euler,

References from 1st article:

“Government Won’t Protect You from Environmental Poisons,” Cancer Defeated Newsletter.

“Organic Foods: Are They Really Worth the Price?” Cancer Defeated Newsletter.

“Organic products worth buying—and those you can skip; Tips on buying organic without breaking the bank,” Consumers Union.

“Organic Toilet Paper” by Jessica Drew.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Kyoto Protocol.

Ronnie Cummins & Ben Lilliston, Beef Hormones, Irradiation, & Mad Deer: America’s Food Safety Crisis Continues, Center for Food Safety News #19 (formerly Food Bytes), June 4, 1999, at 1. The EU’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures spoke to the Associated Press and stated “the hormone 17 beta-oestradiol has to be considered as a complete carcinogen”. Id.

Additional resources from second article:

Armentano, P. What Your Government Knows About Cannabis and Cancer—And Isn’t Telling You. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Bosmier, M. 2011. Cannabis oil is a highly efficient natural cancer cure. Natural News. Retrieved from

Mercola, J. 2011. The medical miracle you’ll get arrested for using. Retrieved from Mercola website:

Simpson, R. 2008. Run from the cure: How cannabis cures cancer and why no one knows. Cannabis Culture: Marijuana Magazine. Retrieved from

Weil, A. 2011. Therapeutic hemp oil. North Coast Express Archives. Retrieved from

Footnotes from second article:

1Melamede, R. 2011. University of Colorado. Medical marijuana: A cure for cancer? Retrieved from
2Salazar, M., Carracedo, A. et al. Cannabinoid action induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells. J. Clin. Invest. 119:1359-1372 (2009). doi:10.1172/JCI37948. Retrieved from
3Guzman et al. 2004. Cannabinoids inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor pathways in gliomas (PDF). Cancer Research 64: 5617-5623.
4Grinspoon, L. 2011. Medical Marijuana: A Note of Caution. High Times Op-Ed article. Retrieved from

About the author

Lee Euler

Hi I'm Lee Euler, I’ve spent over a decade investigating every possible way a person can beat cancer. In fact, our commitment to defeating cancer has made us the world’s #1 publisher of information about Alternative Cancer Treatments -- with over 20 books and 700 newsletters on the subject. If you haven't heard about all your cancer options, or if you want to make sure you don’t miss even one answer to this terrible disease, then join our newsletter. When you do, I'll keep you informed each week about the hundreds of alternative cancer treatments that people are using to cure cancer all over the world.

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