Reduce Your Risk of Cancer by Eating More Plants
Plant-based eating is a growing trend. You have most likely noticed the additional plant-based choices at the supermarket or when eating out. This trend goes beyond simply a fad. There is increasing research which supports a plant-based style of eating to optimize your health.
A new study has provided further links to the potential benefits of eating a plant-based diet to reduce your risk of certain cancers. Also, the health benefits of moderate meat intake and a plant-based diet which includes seafood only to reduce your risk of certain cancers. 472,377 were chosen for this study. The participants were aged between 40-70 years.
The participants completed dietary questionnaires about how much meat they ate at the start of the study. The participants were then placed into categories of regular meat eaters of more than 5 times a week, low meat eaters of equal or less than 5 times a week, fish-eaters, and vegetarians. The researchers studied this cohort of people for 11 years. The researchers recorded which of the participants developed any cancer as well as the specific cancers prostate cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
The researchers found that those participants who included meat which included beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey no more than 5 times a week had a 2% lower chance of developing any cancer. Also, a 9% lower chance of developing colon cancer compared to those who consumed meat more often.
Those participants who did not eat meat but included seafood had a 10% lower risk of developing any form of cancer. Also, a 20% lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those who included meat more than 5 times a week in their diet.
Those who were vegetarian, or vegan had a 14% lower risk of developing any cancer compared to those who included meat more than 5 times a week in their diet. Also, a 31% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to those who included meat more than 5 times a week.
The reasons plant-based foods are protective again developing cancers is due to a matrix of nutrition factors plant foods provide. This includes fiber which is linked to a healthy body weight as well as a type of fiber called prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber fuels the health promoting microbes in your gut which protect your body in many ways including reducing your risk of developing certain cancers. Plant foods also contain polyphenols and antioxidants which help to fight off free radicals. In excess, free radicals can cause damage and disease to the cells of your body.
Furthermore, plant-based foods provide many vitamins and minerals which support optimal body function and health such as vitamin A and C. Both these vitamins support an optimal working immune system. Plant-based foods include whole grains & whole grain containing foods like Corn Thins slices, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, and beans.
If cutting out all forms of animal meat is too much change, this research suggests that reducing the amount of meat to less than five times a week could be a good first goal. Also including seafood, as this food is linked to a lower risk of developing any type of cancer and specifically a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who eat meat more frequently. If you wish to include seafood in your diet it is recommended to included seafood 2-3 times a week. A serve of seafood is 100 grams of cooked seafood.
Take home message: This research reinforces the health benefits of include more plant-based foods in your diet. If you do not want to make a complete switch to eating a diet completely void of all animal products this new research provides some comforting results. Red meat can still be included in moderation as well as seafood as part of an overall balanced diet to support your health.
- Watling, C.Z., Schmidt, J.A., Dunneram, Y. et al. Risk of cancer in regular and low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians: a prospective analysis of UK Biobank participants. BMC Med 20, 73 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02256-w
- Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch. Eating less meat may lower overall cancer risk. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/eating-less-meat-may-lower-overall-cancer-risk.