Health

Vegetarians Less Likely to Develop Cancer

| by News Medical Net

Vegetarians are 12 per cent less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer.

In
a study of more than 61,000 people, Cancer Research UK scientists from
Oxford followed meat eaters and vegetarians for over 12 years, during
which 3,350 of the participants were diagnosed with cancer.

They
found that the risk of being diagnosed with cancers of the stomach,
bladder and blood was lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

The
most striking difference was in cancers of the blood including
leukaemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The risk of these
diseases was 45 per cent lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

Professor
Tim Key, study author from the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit at
Oxford University, said: "Our large study looking at cancer risk in
vegetarians found the likelihood of people developing some cancers is
lower among vegetarians than among people who eat meat. In particular
vegetarians were much less likely to develop cancers of the blood which
include leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. More research is needed to
substantiate these results and to look for reasons for the differences."

The
study looked at 20 different types of cancers. The differences in risks
between vegetarians and meat eaters were independent of other lifestyle
behaviours including smoking, alcohol intake and obesity which also
affect the chance of developing cancer.

Sara Hiom, director of
health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "These interesting
results add to the evidence that what we eat affects our chances of
developing cancer. We know that eating a lot of red and processed meat
increases the risk of stomach cancer. But the links between diet and
cancer risk are complex and more research is needed to see how big a
part diet plays and which specific dietary factors are most important.

"The
relatively low number of vegetarians who developed cancer in this study
supports Cancer Research UK's advice that people should eat a healthy,
balanced diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in saturated
fat, salt and red and processed meat.

"It's understandable that
there's a link between what you eat and cancers of the digestive
system. But we are surprised to see an association between leukemia,
non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma, more research is needed to
understand the mechanisms involved."

From News Medical Net