WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Vegetarian diets are protective against colorectal cancers. Researchers believe that very low meat intake (included red and processed meats) and higher intake of dietary fiber found in vegetarian diets can help individuals reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by 20%.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.1 This type of cancer affects the colon or rectum, also known as the large intestine, in the body’s digestive tract. This particular type of cancer has no symptoms, which is why routine screening is so important. In their lifetime, 1 in 20 (5%) of Americans will develop colorectal cancer.1
Age is the strongest predictor of colorectal cancer. Ninety percent of new cases are diagnosed in those 50 and older, and 93% of deaths occur in those 50 and older.1 Men are more likely to develop this cancer than women, as rates of new cases and cancer death are about 30% to 40% higher in men.
Age and sex are two uncontrollable risk factors, but there are many proactive steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. Firstly, routinely scheduled colonoscopies are a must. Following screening, diet has been demonstrated to play a major role in the development of this particular type of cancer.
WHAT THE RESEARCH SHOWS
In a recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute and World Cancer Research Fund, researchers set out to establish the connection between diet and colorectal cancer risk.2 Nearly 80,000 Americans were included in this nationally representative study, including individuals in 48 states. The study took place over the course of seven years, from early 2001 through the end of 2007.
Participants in the study completed extensive surveys on their typical dietary intake. Five dietary patterns were recognized: vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescovegetarian, semivegetarian and nonvegetarian. The four vegetarian categories were compared to the nonvegetarian diet to determine the difference in cancer diagnoses outcomes. Vegetarians had lower body mass index (BMI), lower intakes of total fat, saturated fat, total meat, red meat and processed meat and a higher intake of dietary fiber. The result? Vegetarians are at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer. In fact, they’re significantly less likely – a whopping 20% less likely!
Research continues to demonstrate the countless benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The present study is not intended to implore every American to swear off animal products in order to help fight the chances colorectal cancer. This study only seeks to help readers understand that their dietary choices have a lasting impact on their health. In order to promote the highest levels of health and wellbeing, a person’s diet should include an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Ideally, you should strive to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables during every meal and snack. Doing so ensures you are getting the adequate amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals your body needs to help maintain a healthy immune system that fights off diseases.
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