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Fewer cancers for vegetarians

16th March 2009

UK research has suggested that people who do not consume meat in their daily diet could have a decreased risk of developing cancer.

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The researchers examined information collected from 52,700 male and female subjects and found those who ate a vegetarian diet had "significantly" less cancers "overall".

However the study did find "significantly" higher numbers of colorectal cancer in people who ate a vegetarian diet.

The study, headed by Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist at the University of Oxford,  looked at data from subjects aged 20 to 89.

The researchers separated the subjects into people who ate meat, those who are fish, vegetarians and vegans.

They saw fewer cancers in the fish-eating and vegetarian groups compared to the meat-eating group. 

The researchers were taken aback to find that vegetarians had a higher rate of colorectal cancer, which contradicted research which linked consumption of red meat with the cancer.

Professor Key said: "It's interesting - it suggests there might be some reduction in cancers in vegetarians and fish-eaters and we need to look carefully at that."

He added: "It doesn't support the idea that vegetarians would have lower rates of colorectal cancer and I think it means we need to think more carefully about how meat fits into it."

 

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