Vegetarianism Associated with Reduced Risk for Colorectal Cancer — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 10, 2015

Vegetarianism Associated with Reduced Risk for Colorectal Cancer

By Jenni Whalen

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Jaye Elizabeth Hefner, MD

Vegetarian diets are associated with a lower incidence of colorectal cancer, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Nearly 80,000 adults from the Adventist Health Study 2 completed food-frequency questionnaires at baseline and then were divided into five dietary groups: vegan (8% of the population), lacto-ovo vegetarian (29%), pesco-vegetarian (10%), semi-vegetarian (6%), and non-vegetarian (48%).

During 7 years' follow-up, researchers documented 490 cases of colorectal cancer. Compared with non-vegetarians, all vegetarians combined had a significantly reduced risk for colorectal cancer (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.78). When examined by type of vegetarian diet, only pesco-vegetarians had a significant reduction in risk (hazard ratio, 0.57).

"The evidence that vegetarian diets ... may be associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, along with prior evidence of the potential reduced risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and mortality, should be considered carefully in making dietary choices and in giving dietary guidance," the authors conclude.

Reader Comments (4)

ROBERT SCHEINBERG Physician, Dermatology, California

Regarding GMO's.: I am waiting for a study that shows that organic foods, GMO's produced in a laboratory (rather than by the traditional way to manipulate food as Mendel did selecting foods with various traits and engineering the progeny the old fashioned way, as was used recently to make HoneyCrisp Apples) prolong life independent of other lifestyle choices. Logical but not proven, as is vegetarianism and colorectal cancer in people not eating fish as a substitute for meat.


Why the stress on the vegetarians when it looks like it was substituting fish for meat in the pesco-vegetarians created the difference in the whole vegetarian cohort?

Herm Payen Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Glendale Az

Wake up America, this was as expected but what is more important is our ignorance of what ultimate consequences would be of consuming Genetically Modified(GMO) foods.

Horacio R.V. D'Agostino, MD FACR FSIR Physician, Radiology, LSU Health Shreveport

Glad and pleased that plant based nutrition is reaching main attention to enhance our society's well being. It is key to sustain humanity balanced with our planet resources. Efforts should be made to keep our planet clean and as humans, decide what we want to do with the future of our species.

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