Diets rich in vegetables and fish may reduce risk of bowel cancer

Having a diet which contains a lot of vegetables and fish may reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer, according to a US study. 1

Researchers from Loma Linda University in California followed a group of over 70,000 people for a period of seven years, and analysed four different types of diet, all of which were loosely based on vegetarianism. They found that all four groups had a combined reduced bowel cancer risk when compared to non-vegetarians.

Interestingly, when the researchers split the groups down, they found that the pescovegetarian group (who ate fish one or more times a month, but all other meats less than once a month) were the only group of the four to show a statistically significant risk reduction to bowel cancer.

It should be pointed out that all adults in the study were Seventh Day Adventists, a group who are encouraged by their church to avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, as well as eat a vegetarian diet. This is important as it means there may not have been other lifestyle issues which often have to be considered when thinking about how cancers develop. This means we can’t say definitively that eating fish helps reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

However, we do know that there is plenty of evidence to suggest eating too much red or processed meat can increase the risk, so it is sensible to limit how much we eat.

Reference

1 Orlich MK, Singh P, Sabaté J, et al. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Colorectal Cancers. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online March 9 2015

Headlines

Forget being a veggie - it's healthier to be a pescetarian: Eating fish but not meat halves the risk of developing bowel cancer. Mail Online, March 9 2015