The risk of rectal cancers can be lowered by a plant-based diet, and the benefits are greater if it includes seafood and fish, according to an U.S. study.
The current study confirms previous research which suggested that vegetarians have a reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. The report was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and offers insight into the great benefits of plant-based diets.
The lead author of the study Dr. Michael Orlich, from the Loma Linda University in California, said that “pescovegetarians (people who follow a combined diet of fish and plant) had a significantly lower risk of colorectal cancers than people on other vegetarian diets”.
Dr. Orlich and other specialists compiled the report from medical records, questionnaires and cancer registries from a nationwide sample of 77,659 Seventh-Day Adventists. The followers of this religion are usually encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle and to abstain from smoking and drinking.
Of the entire sample, the team found 110 cases of rectal cancer and 380 cases of colon cancer.
The results showed that compared to meat eaters, the vegetarians were 22 percent less likely to develop rectal cancer. According to the researchers, vegetarians could be protected from cancer mostly because they eat more plants, and not because they eat less meat.
“Diets high in fiber are linked with decreased risk, and fiber comes from whole plant foods. This could be a major reason why the risk is much lower,” said Dr. Orlich.
A pescovegetarian is someone who eats fish at least once a month. This category had a greater risk reduction, of 43 percent.
Vegans, who only eat diary, fish, eggs and meat less than once a month, had a 16 percent risk reduction. The study also found that limiting meat and fish consumption to once a week showed an 8 percent risk reduction.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Approximately 4.7 percent of the population will be diagnosed with colon and rectum cancer at some point during their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute, based on 2009-2011 data.
The study suggests that fish contains several nutrients that protect against cancer. High in omega-3 acids, fish could prove to be the key of preventing some types of cancer. Fish are also rich in vitamin D.
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