Eating a vegetarian diet can almost halve the risk of developing
cancer, research suggests.
A study of more than 61,000 individuals aged between 20 and 89 found
those who did not eat meat reduced overall incidence of the disease by
12 per cent.
But the most striking difference was in cancers of the blood,
including leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma with 45 per cent fewer
cases among the vegetarians.
Tumours of the stomach and bladder were also significantly less
frequent in this group.
Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist at the
University of Oxford, said: 'Over a lifetime about one in three people
will be diagnosed with cancer. So if 33 people in every hundred get
cancer this would come down to about 29 with everyone following a
vegetarian diet, which is 12 per cent lower.'
However, Mr Key said the findings were not yet strong enough to advise
the public to make dramatic changes to the way they eat as long as
they are following an 'average balanced diet'.
Although it is widely recommended we eat five portions of fruit and
vegetables a day to reduce their risk of cancer and other diseases,
there is little evidence looking specifically at a vegetarian diet.
Mr Key, whose findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer,
added: 'More research is needed to substantiate these results and to
look for reasons for the differences.'
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