Killer Tomatoes


If you're worried about pesticides causing cancer, you'd better not eat broccoli, bananas, peaches, peas, pineapples, potatoes, or even tomatoes. Going organic is futile. Each of these fruits and vegetables—and scores more—produces natural pesticides that have been shown to cause cancer by the same tests that condemn many synthetic pesticides.

"Of all dietary pesticides that humans eat, 99.99 percent are natural," write University of California at Berkeley cancer experts Bruce Ames and Lois Swirsky Gold in a recent paper for the journal Mutation Research. "They are chemicals produced by plants to defend themselves against fungi, insects, and other animal predators."

Ames and Gold's message isn't to quit eating fruits and vegetables. They just want to debunk the hysteria over synthetic pesticides and work toward a more rational regulatory system that focuses on large risks (such as poor diet and lifestyle), not small ones (such as chemical bogeymen).

"Publicity about hundreds of minor hypothetical risks, such as pesticide residues, can result in loss of perspective on what is important," the pair writes. "Half of the US public does not know that fruit and vegetable consumption protect against cancer." Even though they contain pesticides.