Vegetarians, those who prefer not to eat animal meat, have a 14% lower risk of developing any type of cancer when compared to people who regularly eat meat, according to a study by researchers at the University of Oxford.
The growing tribe of vegetarianism around you may seem like a fad, but chances are, it will not only stay, but grow grow-further. Previous studies have shown that maintaining a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of many health problems, and fast food companies also want to include vegetarian options on their menus. And a new study adds weight to this movement.
Whom did researchers look at?
Researchers analyzed data from more than 472,000 participants from UK Biobank. in 2006, UK Biobank has health & genetic data of more than 500,000 people that serves as handy data base for researchers to determine health out-comes while adding variables, such-as diet, in this case.
Researchers created 4 categories of participants based on their diet; The first included those who ate meat more than 5 times per week (regular meat eaters), the 2nd those who ate meat five times or less per week (low meat eaters), the 3rd those who ate only fish, while last one focused on people who do not eat meat or fish, i.e. vegetarians.
All people in the database had not shown any signs of cancer at the time when they recruited and were followed more than 11 years to see if they did develop any.
At the end of 11 years, the researchers reported different types of cancer in these people, ranging from colorectal cancer to prostate cancer to postmenopausal breast cancer in the participating women. However, cancer incidence was lower in those who ate a vegetarian diet, while meat eaters were at higher risk.
Is eating fish better than eating meat?
Because the risk of developing cancer was lower in people who ate less meat in their diets, it was even lower in people who ate fish in their diets. According to a press release from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which sponsored this study, the risk of developing cancer was reduced by 10% in people who ate fish.
Compared to meat eaters, fish eaters were 20% less likely to develop prostate cancer, while vegetarians were 31% less likely to develop the same type of cancer. For those who can’t switch to a plant based diet right away, switching to fish might be a better health option in the meantime.
In the study published in the BMC medicine, researchers clarified that the results may also be affected by other factors such as the Body Mass Index (BMI) of individuals.
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