HealthDay reports a large study that suggests that people who adhere to no-meat and low-meat diets “may have lower risks of some of the most common cancers.”The study published in BMC Medicine was “based on more than 472,000 U.K. adults” and evaluated the impact of “no-meat and low-meat diets” on risks of
The authors write, “Following a vegetarian diet has become increasingly popular and some evidence suggests that being vegetarian may be associated with a lower risk of cancer overall. However, for specific cancer sites, the evidence is limited. Our aim was to assess the associations of vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets with risks of all cancer, colorectal cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and prostate cancer and to explore the role of potential mediators between these associations.”
The British researchers stressed that their findings do not prove definitively that vegetarian/vegan diets cut people’s cancer risks. In fact, there was evidence that body weight may explain some of the benefits.
But the findings, based on more than 470,000 people, do strengthen the case that no-meat and low-meat diets are at least associated with lower cancer risks.
People who adhered to a “low-meat” diet (5 or fewer servings of red meat or poultry per week) had a 9% lower risk of colon cancer, versus people who ate meat more often.
Watling’s team found that a vegetarian or vegan diet seemed protective against breast cancer, but only among postmenopausal women. Their risk of the disease was 18% lower, versus postmenopausal women who ate meat more than five times per week.
As for prostate cancer, the study found, the risk was lower among men who were vegetarian/vegan or pescatarian (eating fish but no meat): Compared with men who often ate meat, their risk of the disease was 20% to 31% lower.
The American Cancer Society has advice on healthy eating.
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