Can­cer risk drops for fish eat­ing veg­e­tar­i­ans

Lesotho Times - - Health -

AT­LANTA — Drop­ping red meat, and stick­ing to a plant-based diet that in­cor­po­rates fish may be the key to pre­vent­ing col­orec­tal (colon and rec­tum) can­cers, ac­cord­ing to a seven-year study pub­lished on Mon­day. Pesc­etar­i­ans, as they are com­monly re­ferred, had a 43 per­cent lower chance of get­ting the can­cer com­pared to peo­ple with om­niv­o­rous di­ets.

Why fo­cus on col­orec­tal can­cer? It is the third most di­ag­nosed can­cer, and the third lead­ing cause of can­cer-re­lated death in the US in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety statis­tics. The dis­ease is par­tic­u­larly danger­ous be­cause it is usu­ally asymp­to­matic in its early stages, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to de­tect when it’s less deadly.

The study, which fol­lowed nearly 78 000 peo­ple and was pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, adds to the grow­ing body of ev­i­dence tout­ing the health benefits of a plant-based diet. An­other study, re­view­ing data from 39 sep­a­rate stud­ies show­ing that a plant based diet leads to an av­er­age drop in blood pres­sure sim­i­lar to 30-60 min­utes of ex­er­cise per day. Yet an­other study from last year found an av­er­age weight loss of nearly 3.4kg for veg­e­tar­i­ans.

While ev­i­dence shows the health benefits of re­duc­ing red meat con­sump­tion, the re­cent study high­lights the dif­fer­ences be­tween even a fully veg­e­tar­ian diet and a pesc­etar­ian diet. Within the sam­ple group there was a 27 per­cent drop in the risk of con­tract­ing col­orec­tal can­cer if you switch from fully veg­e­tar­ian to eat­ing fish. The au­thors of the study sug­gest that omega-3 fatty acids may be the key to such a low risk of can­cer in the pesc­etar­ian group.

Nutri­tion­ist Lisa Drayer agrees. “In ad­di­tion to other di­etary fac­tors, fish may pro­vide added pro­tec­tion from its high con­tent omega-3 fatty acids.

This is con­sis­tent with pre­vi­ous re­search that has found omega-3s have anti-can­cer ac­tiv­ity and that they may be help­ful in the pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of col­orec­tal can­cer.” Some ques­tions can be raised though, from ob­serv­ing the re­cent study’s par­tic­i­pants Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tists, a group that typ­i­cally avoids al­co­hol and tobacco.

But de­spite the caveat, Drayer is op­ti­mistic. “While the study is ob­ser­va­tional and can­not prove a cause/ef­fect re­la­tion­ship, it is ex­cit­ing to think that in ad­di­tion to regular screen­ings, a diet rich in fish and fiber-rich foods may play an im­por­tant role in re­duc­ing the risk of col­orec­tal can­cer.”


Reach­ing your health goals

Hav­ing some­one else along for the ride will help you be more accountable.

Plant-based di­ets may also con­trib­ute to greater weight loss and lower blood pres­sure

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