Going vegan or vegetarian can lower your cancer risk, study says

Conversation

Salmon on the serving plate on the table

Time to cut down on your meat consumption? (Image: Getty Images)

More and more people are choosing to eat less meat. There are many reasons people may choose to make this change, but health is often cited as a common motivator.

A large number of studies have shown that a plant-based diet can have many health benefits – including a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and diabetes. heart. Two large studies – the EPIC-Oxford and the Christian Health Study-2 – have also suggested that a vegetarian or vegan diet (where the only meat a person eats is fish or seafood) may be associated with slightly lower overall cancer risk.

Limited research has shown whether these diets can reduce the risk of developing specific types of cancer. This is what our recent research aims to discover. We found that eating less meat reduces a person’s risk of developing cancer – even the most common types of cancer.

We conducted a large-scale analysis of diet and cancer risk using data from the UK Biobank study (a detailed health and genetic information database). from nearly 500,000 Britons). When participants were recruited between 2006 and 2010, they completed questionnaires about their diets – including how often they ate foods like meat and fish. We then followed the participants for 11 years using their medical records to understand how their health had changed during this time.

The participants were then classified into four groups depending on their diet. About 53% are regular meat eaters (meaning they eat meat more than 5 times a week). More than 44% of the participants were low-meat eaters (5 times or less a week). Just over 2% were vegetarians, while just under 2% of participants were classified as vegetarians. We included vegans with vegetarians because there weren’t enough to study them separately.

Our analyzes were also adjusted to ensure other factors that may increase cancer risk – such as age, sex, smoking, drinking and sociodemographic status – were taken into account. arrive.

Compared with regular meat eaters, we found the risk of developing any type of cancer was 2% lower for people who ate less meat, 10% lower for vegetarians, and 14% lower for people who ate less meat. vegetarians.

Specific cancer risk

We also wanted to know how diet affects the risk of developing the three most common cancers in the UK.

We found that people who ate less meat had a 9% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate meat regularly. Previous research has also shown that high consumption of processed meat in particular is associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. We also found that vegetarians and vegans had a lower risk of colorectal cancer, however this was not statistically significant.

We also found that vegetarian women had an 18% lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than those who regularly ate meat. However, this association was largely due to the lower mean body weight in vegetarian women. Previous studies have shown that being overweight or obese after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer. No significant association was observed between postmenopausal breast cancer risk between cat meat eaters and those who ate less meat.

Healthy Spaghetti with Roasted Pumpkin and Sage Butter

Fasting has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer (Image: Getty Images)

Vegetarians and vegans also had a lower risk of prostate cancer (20% and 31% respectively) than regular meat eaters. But it’s not clear whether this is due to diet, or to other factors – such as whether a person goes for cancer screening.

Since this was an observational study (meaning we only observed changes to the participants’ health without asking them to change their diet), this means that we It’s impossible to know for sure whether the associations we’ve seen are directly caused by diet or if they’re due to other factors. Although we carefully adjusted the results to account for other important causes of cancer, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, it is still possible that other factors influenced the results. that we observe.

Another limitation of our study is that most of the participants (about 94%) were Caucasian. This means that we do not know if the same association is seen in other ethnic groups. It is important for future studies to look at more diverse populations, as well as larger numbers of vegans, vegetarians, and vegans to explore whether the link between cancer risk lower and whether these dietary patterns are as robust as we have observed.

It’s important to note that simply eliminating meat doesn’t necessarily make your diet healthier. For example, some people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may still eat less fruits and vegetables and more processed and refined foods, which can lead to poor health.

Most of the evidence for a link between lower cancer risk and a vegetarian or vegan diet also seems to suggest that higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may explain the risk. this lower body. These groups also did not consume red and processed meat, which has been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer. But more evidence will be needed to fully uncover the reason for the results we observed.

The link between red and processed meat and cancer risk is well known – which is why people are advised to limit the amount of food they consume as part of their diet. . It is also recommended that people eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans as well as maintain a healthy body weight to reduce the risk of cancer.

By Cody Watling, PhD Researcher, Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford; Aurora Perez-Cornago, Senior Nutritional Epidemiologist, University of Oxford, and Tim Key, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Oxford

Click here to read the original article on The Conversation.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/02/27/going-vegetarian-or-pescatarian-might-reduce-your-cancer-risk-says-research-16184151/ Going vegan or vegetarian can lower your cancer risk, study says

Sarah Y. Kim

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