Go­ing veg­e­tar­ian to cut colon cancer risk

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

THERE’S no dis­put­ing the fact that reg­u­lar colono­scopies, now sug­gested to start at age 45 for those with an av­er­age risk of col­orec­tal cancer, can help pre­vent the dis­ease by find­ing – and re­mov­ing – pre­can­cer­ous growths. And a study of 77,000 adults pub­lished in JAMA In­ter­nal Medicine found that you can also lower your risk of this cancer by mak­ing changes in your diet right now, what­ever your age.

Doc­tors know that eat­ing red and pro­cessed meats raises the risk of col­orec­tal cancer, while eat­ing fi­bre-rich foods low­ers it. The JAMA find­ings got more spe­cific about dif­fer­ent types of di­ets. On av­er­age, eat­ing veg­e­tar­ian may lower colon cancer risk by 19 per cent and rec­tal cancer by 29 per cent com­pared to non-veg­e­tar­i­ans – peo­ple who eat meat at least once a week.

Be­sides eat­ing less meat, the veg­e­tar­i­ans in the study ate fewer sweets, snacks, re­fined grains and high-calo­rie bev­er­ages and more fruits, veg- eta­bles, whole grains, beans and nuts. How­ever, the pro­tec­tive ef­fects vary with the type of veg­e­tar­ian diet, the re­searchers said.

By the study’s num­bers:

- Pesco-veg­e­tar­i­ans: Eat­ing fish and seafood, but avoid­ing other meats low­ers col­orec­tal cancer risk by 43 per cent.

- Lacto-ovo veg­e­tar­i­ans: Avoid­ing meat, but eat­ing eggs and/or dairy prod­ucts low­ers col­orec­tal cancer risk by 18 per cent.

- Ve­g­ans: Avoid­ing all meat, eggs and dairy low­ers col­orec­tal cancer risk by 16 per cent. - Semi-veg­e­tar­i­ans: Eat­ing meat less than once a week low­ers col­orec­tal cancer risk by eight per cent.

Re­search can’t yet ex­plain ex­actly how eat­ing veg­e­tar­ian helps. But one the­ory says it could be be­cause veg­e­tar­i­ans of­ten fol­low other healthy be­hav­iours, such as ex­er­cis­ing and not smok­ing, which also re­duce cancer risk.

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