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Study: Vegetarians Are 45% Less Likely to Develop Cancer

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder

A study conducted in part by scientists at Oxford University's Cancer Epidemiology Unit[1] indicates that vegetarians develop some cancers, including bladder and stomach cancers and leukemia, up to 45% less than persons who eat red meat[2], that's nearly half the risk! The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer earlier this year.

A study by The Center for Nutrition and Health associated consuming fruits and vegetables with lower cancer risk[3]. Consider fruits and vegetables to your body like income to your bank account. The more you eat, and fill up your body's bank account, the more "stuff" you can do, like fight off diseases, maintain healthy vision and organ function, be athletic, travel, focus, learn.

When your body is low on funds, you run into concerns paying the bills and meeting the demands of life. Keeping your body's bank account full is like keeping a nest egg or an emergency fund. As long as you've continued feeding your body good live things, you're better equipped to handle whatever comes your way, mentally, emotionally and physically.

The Importance of Fruits and Veggies

Part of this risk in limiting your fruit and veggie intake lies in the fact that lower consumption probably goes hand in hand with higher fat consumption. In other words, you trade in the banana for the burger. High-fat diets are associated with increased risk for prostate, breast and colon cancers.

Vegetarians (those who eat mainly plant matter, dairy and eggs) and vegans (those who eat only plant matter and consume no animal products of any kind) have lower cholesterol and generally have a lower body mass index (BMI) than meat eaters[4], and are at much lower risk for developing ischemic heart disease[5].

It has been long known that fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, are major factors in health and weight loss. You are less likely to be overweight if you are eating things that your body will use and benefit from, rather than eating toxic things that will just accumulate in your organs.

Your Daily Consumption of Fruit and Veggies

It is recommended that people eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, although many people find excuses not to do so. So many excuses, in fact, that the Food and Drug Administration decided to address them one by one in an issue of FDA Consumer Magazine.

Other organizations are taking point on the five-a-day campaign, including the National Cancer Institute and Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a calculator to tell you how many cups of each you need depending on your age, gender and activity level[6].

If you're getting less than five servings per day of health-promoting foods, it might be time to rethink your strategy. Sitting down to watch TV? Stash the potato chips (they don't count as a vegetable) and try eating some fresh fruit instead.

The Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Other than lowering the risk of cancer, helping to control cholesterol and fat levels, fruits and vegetables provide loads of antioxidants, which help remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals may cause cellular damage and lead to cancer. Free-radical wrangling antioxidants are found in all fruits and vegetables, some meat and dairy products, as well as raw nuts and seeds.

Looking for a quick and easy way to pack antioxidants into your diet? Bulk up on healthy berries! Not only do they contain extremely high amounts of antioxidants, but they also contain phytochemicals. Don't let the word scare you, phytochemicals are a good thing.

Phytochemicals seem to block cancer development, but you'll miss out on this important component if you just take an antioxidant supplement instead of consuming phytochemical containing foods, like berries[7]. Blueberries are among the best free radical wranglers on the market, and they're fun to gather at you-pick-farms.

References (7)
  1. James Gallagher. Vegetarians 'cut heart risk by 32%. BBC News Health. 2013 January 30
  2. Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, Travis RC, Allen NE, Thorogood M, Mann JI. Cancer incidence in British vegetarians. Br J Cancer. 2009 Jul 7;101(1):192-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605098. Epub 2009 Jun 16.
  3. Jansen MC, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Feskens EJ, Streppel MT, Kok FJ, Kromhout D. Quantity and variety of fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk. Nutr Cancer. 2004;48(2):142-8.
  4. Key TJ, Appleby PN, Rosell MS. Health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets. Proc Nutr Soc. 2006 Feb;65(1):35-41. Review.
  5. Ginter E. Vegetarian diets, chronic diseases and longevity. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2008;109(10):463-6. Review.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fruits and Vegetables.
  7. Liu RH. Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action. J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12 Suppl):3479S-3485S. Review.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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