A new study from Loma Linda University funded by the National Cancer Institute, to be published soon in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, has tied a vegan diet to lower risk of female-specific cancers.
The study was based on the fact that diet accounts for about one third of all cancers in Western nations. People do not consume individual foods but combine them, so the assessment of dietary patterns may provide valuable information in determining links between diet and cancer risk, according to the researchers.
Vegan women were found to have 34% lower rates of cancers including breast,cervical and ovarian cancer compared with non-vegetarians. Women on a vegan diet were compared against a group of healthy meat-eaters who had two servings a week or more of meat. The results also took into account non-dietary factors including smoking, alcohol and cases of cancer in the family.
In addition, the research showed that a vegan diet resulted in a 16% lower risk of all cancers, for both genders. Overall, different types of vegetarian diets were shown to result in a significantly lower risk of cancer incidence for both women and men compared with non-vegetarians.
The vegetarian dietary patterns in addition to vegan diet include lacto-ovo vegetarians, who eat dairy products and eggs, and pesco-vegetarians, who consume dairy, eggs and fish. The study found a link between a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and reduced risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.
The study tracked the diets of 69,120 participants from the Adventist Health Study-2 for over four years.