Vegetarian and vegan diets: protect against cancer

The Adventist Health Study-2 is one of the biggest projects ever to look at the influence of lifestyle on health and in particular how vegetarian diets can potentially help to prevent cancer. Researchers examined the association between non-vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescetarian, vegan and semi-vegetarian diets and cancer. Some 70,000 people took part and is was found that vegetarians (all vegetarian lifestyles) had a significantly lower risk of cancer – including digestive tract cancers – compared with non-vegetarians. Analysing the effects of the different vegetarian dietary patterns showed that vegan diets gave better protection for overall cancer incidence but particularly for female-specific cancers. The authors concluded that although vegetarian diets seem to decrease the risk of cancer, vegan diet offers the best protection.

Tantamango-Bartley, Y., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Fan, J., Fraser, G., 2013. Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 22 (2) 286-294.