Lung cancer

When most people think about lung cancer they usually think about its connection with smoking. However, certain foods can also influence the risk of lung cancer.

In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund said that red and processed meats were possible causes of lung cancer. Since then, the evidence linking meat and lung cancer has got even stronger.

One in ten lung cancers could be avoided if people reduced their meat intake, avoiding meat altogether would be even more effective.

High levels of saturated fat in meat may be to blame but more studies on the chemicals in processed and cooked meats and haem iron (the type of iron found in meat) are needed to fully work out the meat-lung cancer link.

Heavy metals and poisons in meat might be to blame as sheep and beef livers increase the risk. The liver breaks down and clears toxins including: antibiotics, vaccine ingredients, pesticides, tainted water and synthetic hormones that are frequently given to farm animals.

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a natural human growth hormone that can make cancer cells grow. High levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers including lung cancer. Animal protein in meat and dairy foods increases production of IGF-1 from the liver and so raises the levels of IGF-1 circulating around the body. Vegans, who don’t eat any animal protein, have lower levels of IGF-1 than people who eat meat and dairy. 

“The evidence that fruits protect against lung cancer is convincing” World Cancer Research Fund, 2007.

High intakes of fruit, vegetables and soya reduce the risk. This is probably due to antioxidants, polyphenols, fibre and minerals. Although stopping smoking is still the most effective approach to lowering lung cancer risk, healthy eating and lifestyle are also necessary for the prevention of lung cancer, especially for former and current smokers. However, high intake of plant-foods considerably slashes the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers and smokers alike. And there’s one type of food that offers extra protection – cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts etc.). These vegetables contain natural compounds that help to combat cancer cells!


Read more about lung cancer and vegan diets.

Find out what you need to eat each day here.



Fun, colourful wallchart which shows you where to get all the nutrients you need from plants for a healthy, vibrant diet at a glance.