|A plant-based diet cuts cancer risk. Photo: Sally Kneidel|
In the US as a whole, cancer is the second leading cause of death. It's been known for some time that dietary factors account for at least 30% of all cancers in Western countries. That's scary! But it's also empowering. We can choose what we eat, and this new study gives us more evidence that plant-based diets are safest.
In the new study, researchers at Loma Linda University tracked the diets of 69,120 people over a period of four years - that's a big study and a lot of data! Their results were published Nov 20 2012 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers categorized the participants into five groups based on their diets: nonvegetarian, semivegetarians, lacto-vegetarians (consume dairy products and eggs), pesco-vegetarians (consume dairy, eggs, and fish),and vegans. They tracked the diets and the health of the subjects over the course of the four-year study. During that time, cancer developed in 2,939 of the participants being tracked. The researchers then analyzed which of the five diet groups developed which cancers.
- The overall cancer risk was less among vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians, for both genders.
- The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets seemed to confer protection from cancers of the gastrointestinal tract (but apparently not other cancers).
- Vegan diets seemed to lower the risk of cancer overall for both genders, and for female-specific cancer compared to other dietary patterns.