Eat Only Veggies and Avoid Cancer, Says New Study

March 17, 2009 03:15 PM
by Cara McDonough
A new study finds that vegetarians have significantly less chance of developing cancer overall, but are more likely to develop colorectal cancer.

Surprise Finding

A team of U.K. researchers published the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In an analysis of 52,700 men and women, divided into meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans, it was found that the fish eaters and vegetarians had far fewer cancers than those who ate meat.

The BBC reports that the researchers were surprised to find that the vegetarians were found to have significantly higher rates of colorectal cancer than the meat eaters. The finding is confusing because previous research links eating large amounts of red meat with the disease.

The researchers say the findings warrant further research into the issue.

Professor and epidemiologist Tim Key said that the study "doesn't support the idea that vegetarians would have lower rates of colorectal cancer and I think it means we need to think more carefully about how meat fits into it.” He also said that researchers should look more carefully at the possible reduction in cancers overall in vegetarians and fish eaters.
He said the issue is difficult to assess, because studies that focus on the link between diet and cancer are extremely difficult to do.

Dr. Joanne Lunn, a senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said the findings “highlight the fact that cancer is a complex disease and many different lifestyle factors play a part in determining a person's risk,” according to the BBC.

Medical News Today reports that specifically, the study results showed that in the group of men and women aged 20 to 89, who were recruited in the 1990s, vegetarians showed an 11 percent lower rate of all cancers when compared to meat eaters (adjustments were made for age, sex and smoking status).

For colorectal cancer, however, vegetarians showed a 39 percent higher rate compared with meat eaters.

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Related Topic: Colon cancer follow-up

A study released in September found that only about 40 percent of older colon cancer patients got the follow-up care recommended by their doctors in the three years following surgery for the disease.

The findings were important because patients who undergo surgery for colon cancer are more at risk for a recurrence of the disease, experts said.

According to the study, lack of follow-up care did not affect all groups equally. There was less follow-up screening among African-Americans and those with health problems. Study authors concluded that further studies might determine the reason for the problem, as well as the effect on patient outcome.

Reference: vegetarianism; colon cancer


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