A large body of research has shown that plant-based diets can have many health benefits — including reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. And two large studies – the EPIC-Oxford and the Adventist Health Study-2 – suggested that plant-based diets may be linked to a lower overall cancer risk.
Limited research has shown whether these diets can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
The latest studies, according to Russia Today, found that eating less meat reduces a person’s risk of developing cancer, even the most common types of cancer.
According to the study: A large-scale analysis of diet and cancer risk was carried out using data from the UK Biobank study “a database of detailed genetic and health information for nearly 500,000 Britons”. When the participants were recruited between 2006 and 2010, they completed questionnaires about their diet, including how often they ate foods such as meat and fish.
The study followed participants for 11 years using their medical records to understand how their health changed during this time.
The participants were categorized into four groups according to their diet. About 53% were regular meat eaters (meaning they ate meat more than five times a week). And 44% of the low-meat eaters “eat meat five or less times a week”.
Compared with regular meat eaters, the researchers found that the risk of developing any type of cancer was 2% lower for low-meat eaters, 10% lower for meat eaters, and 14% lower for vegetarians.
The researchers found that people who ate the least meat had a 9% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to regular meat eaters. Previous research has also shown that a higher intake of processed meat, in particular, is associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
They also found that vegetarians had a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer, but this was not statistically significant.
Vegetarians also have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer, but it’s not clear if this is due to diet, or if it is due to other factors, such as whether a person seeks cancer screening.
Although the results were carefully adjusted to take into account other important causes of cancer, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, it is still possible that other factors may have influenced the results.
It is important to note that simply cutting out meat does not necessarily make your diet healthier; For example, some people who follow a plant-based diet may continue to eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables and large amounts of refined and processed foods; Which may lead to poor health.
Most of the evidence showing an association between lower cancer risks and plant-based diets also appears to suggest that increased consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may explain this lower risk.