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Vegetarian diet reduces cancer risk by up to 43% in new study

Vegetarian diet

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(NaturalNews) Good news for vegetable lovers and those who enjoy a dietary lifestyle primarily consisting of such foods: A recent study has found that a vegetarian diet can reduce a person's risk of developing colorectal cancers when compared to their meat-eating counterparts.

Researchers from Loma Linda University in California discovered that, compared to people who eat meat, vegetarians had a 19 percent lower risk for colon cancer and a 29 percent lower
risk for rectal cancer.(1)

More specifically, a kind of vegetarianism -- pesco-vegetarianism, or a diet of vegetables in addition to fish and seafood but no other animal -- was associated with even lower cancer risks. For example, pesco-vegetarians experienced a 43 percent colorectal cancer risk reduction when compared with non-vegetarians.(1)

Health benefits of avoiding meat and junk foods, eating more fish and vegetables

These findings were published online in JAMA Internal Medicine in an article titled, "Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Colorectal Cancers." An abstract of this study states, "The relationship of vegetarian dietary patterns to colorectal cancer risk is not well established"; as such, researchers engaged in a seven-year follow up study in which the dietary habits of more than 77,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, who are known for touting the benefits of vegetarianism, were assessed.(2,3)

The abstract concludes that a focus on plant-based foods is most beneficial for a person's health. "Vegetarian diets are associated with an overall lower incidence of colorectal cancers," the published article notes. "Pescovegetarians in particular have a much lower risk compared with nonvegetarians. If such associations are causal, they may be important for primary prevention of colorectal cancers."

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Michael Orlich, says that what people eat is vital to their health, something which most people are aware of but don't always abide by.

"Diet is a potentially important approach to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer," he said. Orlich, who is an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda University, explains that the study participants, who were asked to report their incidences of cancer through the years, tended to also refrain from eating junk foods. "Our vegetarians not only ate less meat than the non-vegetarians, but also less sweets, snack foods, refined grains and caloric beverages." He explains that, in addition to vegetables, these people also ate more nuts, whole grains, beans and fruits.(1)

Extremely strict dietary lifestyles not necessary to achieve better colorectal and rectal health

The finding that those who ate fish along with their plant-based meal choices is good news for many people wondering if they should even cut fish from their diet. Furthermore, they may even consider stricter ways of eating and may consider becoming vegan. While it is obviously a personal choice, the finding in this instance clearly shows that enjoying fish along with plenty of vegetables boosts colorectal and rectal health.

"The comforting takeaway is that a person doesn't need to be vegan and cut out all eggs, dairy, and fish to get some benefit in terms of reducing the risk of cancer," said Dr. Leonard
Saltz, chief of the gastrointestinal oncology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.(4)

The American Cancer Society estimates that a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime is about 1 in 20. They also outline that in 2015 approximately 93,090 people will develop colon cancer, 39,610 people will develop rectal cancer, and about 49,700 people will die from colorectal cancers.(5)

Consider making these changes today. One need not become a full-fledged vegetarian, but incorporation of more fish and less meat, in addition to replacing sugary snacks with vegetables, is a good way to get on a path towards improved health.

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.cbsnews.com

(2) http://www.dailyrx.com

(3) http://archinte.jamanetwork.com

(4) http://www.reuters.com

(5) http://www.cancer.org

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