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Being a vegetarian can cut your risk of cancer by a half, claim scientists

(106 Posts)
ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 10:22:16

"More than 61,000 people aged between 20 and 89, roughly half of whom were vegetarian, were followed for more than 12 years in the British arm of the research which is supported by Cancer Research UK."
"vegetarians were 12 per cent less likely to contract cancer than their meat eating counterparts"
"For some cancers like leukaemia, stomach and bladder cancers the difference was even more striking with up to 45 per cent fewer non-meat eaters contracting the diseases than carnivores."
Wow very conclusive study, maybe there should be a campaign to switch children to a meat free diet!

edam Wed 01-Jul-09 10:27:33

<smug vegetarian emoticon required>

(Except it probably doesn't make up for smoking, alas.)

oopsagain Wed 01-Jul-09 10:32:47

i'm impressed by the research.

And i doubt you'll get people on here to accept it tbh.

Meat is thought to be essential by alot of people on here.

I have bene eating fish for about 5 yrs on and off, but haven't eatne any meat for 20 yrs so it isn't such a surprise to me- i've bene aware that it is actually a healthier diet for a long time..

edam Wed 01-Jul-09 10:33:59

Yeah, I remember the organic food thread when lots of people popped up to claim it was essential for their family to have meat at every meal, and they could only afford battery chicken...

spokette Wed 01-Jul-09 10:54:44

Actually, I would like to see more details about the control measures for this research. Did the 61000 people they follow have the same lifestyle with the exception of whether they ate meat or not?
How much meat did the meat eaters eat?
Was it once a week, twice a week, every day?
Did the meat eaters eat both red and white meat, organic or non-organic.
Did the vegetarians only eat fresh food or synthetic food like quorn?
How much process food did both groups eat?
Did both groups drink alcohol or smoke?
What are the interdependencies of overconsumption of processed food (meat and vegetarian) and excessive alcohol intake?
How much salt and fat did the vegetarians and meat eat when consuming processed vegetarian food?
How fit where the people they followed?
Did they all follow the same exercise routine?
Did the study take into account genetic traits?

To say that this study is conclusive is ignorant.

Nancy66 Wed 01-Jul-09 11:05:53

doesn't make sense.

How many of the meat eaters got cancer?

ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:08:27

"All the results were adjusted to take into account smoking, obesity, alcohol intake and lifestyle."

spokette Wed 01-Jul-09 11:09:39


If OP wants to convert us to become non-meat eaters, at least use a credible argument than posting a snippet of some dubius research without the emperical detail behind bit.hmm

spokette Wed 01-Jul-09 11:11:09


Your souce is secondary, not primary.

Also, from that link -

"Fish eaters actually had the lowest rate of cancer – 18 per cent lower than meat eaters – but they were also the smallest sample."


ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:12:41

Don't you want to do what's best for your children or is your judgement clouded by your own prejudices?

spokette Wed 01-Jul-09 11:18:56

OP, did you actually read the article?

From article "We know that eating a lot of red and processed meat increases the risk of stomach cancer. But the links between diet and cancer risk are complex and more research is needed to see how big a part diet plays and which specific dietary factors are most important."

My point exactly. Most people know that if you eat a diet comprising of too much saturated fat (how much saturated fat does a processed vegetarian sausage contain I wonder?), processed food (both meat and non-meat) etc is not good for you. To extrapolate that to say as the OP

"Wow very conclusive study, maybe there should be a campaign to switch children to a meat free diet!"

is as I said earlier, ignorant because the researchers are calling for more research to understand the interdepedencies of diet and health. The study is not conclusivehmm

Itsjustafleshwound Wed 01-Jul-09 11:23:11

The evidence is at best circumstantial and doesn't take into account environmental factors and genetic predispositions ....

I certainly wouldn't change my diet because of this article -...

oopsagain Wed 01-Jul-09 11:23:31

i agree with spokette re having to be rigourous sceince, but this was written up in a peer reviewed journal, wasn't it?

61,000 is a big source so i would think that maybe some of the other factors aren't so important, unless ALL the meat eaters smoke too for example...

Tho i do admit stats make me fall to sleep the minute somebody says it...

spokette Wed 01-Jul-09 11:24:15

Don't you want to do what's best for your children or is your judgement clouded by your own prejudices?

1. You know nothing about me so don't you dare question that I do not want what is best for my children.

2. I am a scientist by training and I work in research. My opinion is not clouded by prejudices. You on the other hand clearly have your judgement clouded as indicated by the fact that you pounce on any bit of information to support your non-meating stance and post it as conclusive evidence, even though the researchers themselves call for more research!

ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:27:54

You seem to have a problem with vegetarianism...lets not hung up on individual words but significant not conclusive might have been better one to use! Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water!

spokette Wed 01-Jul-09 11:30:55

I actually follow a vegetarian diet 75% of the time.hmm

happywomble Wed 01-Jul-09 11:32:12

I am a meat eater but am open to the idea of vegetarianism (for health reasons). However I hate the taste of vegey sausages - they seem so salty which cannot be good healthwise. I think to have a balanced veggie diet (including enough iron) you would have to always cook from scratch (meaing cooking 2 different meals if your DH likes eating meat) and have a good understanding of what foods to eat to replace the good things that are found in meat such as iron.

If I were to decide today that my children were going veggy I would struggle to think of enough recipes to give them a balanced diet. The vegetarian options on the school lunch menu do not look that appealing.

If one gives up meat but still eats fish then that will mean the fish stocks will go down further. How do we know if fish is safe to eat with all the pollution in the seas and rivers.

There is also the environmental campagin about cows giving off too much gas or something and adding to global warming...I think it would be sad if no one ate meat and there were no animals in our fields. We would have to go to childrens farms to see animals.

Its hard to know what to do for the best sometimes.

ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:32:57

Get real spokette mumsnet is awash with people who preach parents to other parents what's best for their children lol

FAQinglovely Wed 01-Jul-09 11:33:33

I'd like to see the actual numbers of that 61,000 who got cancer.

Percentages can do funny things to stats....

ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:33:51

with parents who preach to other parents

ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:36:09

faq: during the time 3,350 people contracted 20 different cancers and the team compared the rates of meat eaters, fish eaters and vegetarians.

oopsagain Wed 01-Jul-09 11:38:19

I've got a link which is interesting.

you can make your asessments after reading the paper....

i suppose the boiggest problem when you do a study like this is that humans are real people, not lab rats so a seriosuly controlled experiemnt is very very difficult to create.

I don't think they looked at genetics-- maybe there is a gene that makes you eat meat and also the same gene predisopses you to cancer?? smile

I think on face value it is very interesting.
It is obviously a descriptive thing, not an actual "we made 1,000 people eat this diet and then we tested this thing2 type study..

it says that cervical cancer was higher in the veggis
and that it seems fish and veggis diets are assco with overall lower cancer rates.

but it didn't note a difference between meat and veggies in colorectal cancer which has been reported precviously.

It seems that it is published in a reputablke peer reviewd journal...

journalof cancer

FAQinglovely Wed 01-Jul-09 11:40:52

yes I want to know the NUMBERS - not the percentages.

Actually - just found them

"We studied 61 566 British men and women, comprising 32 403 meat eaters, 8562 non-meat eaters who did eat fish ('fish eaters') and 20 601 vegetarians. After an average follow-up of 12.2 years, there were 3350 incident cancers of which 2204 were among meat eaters, 317 among fish eaters and 829 among vegetarians."

So - 5% of the total sample group developed cancer.

ElenorRigby Wed 01-Jul-09 11:42:35

oops thats interesting I'll have chat with my DP, he's works as a genetic scientist specialising in cancer genetics

oopsagain Wed 01-Jul-09 11:43:19

lol, spokette, i think being a veggie means that you foolw a veggie diet 100% of the time. grin

I agree that journalists often just pick a line and then this is gospel!
where's ben goldachre?

As any good study says, there is alot of room for further investigation.
i believe that the lab is also a well respected one.. i've a friend doing research into prostate cancer and diet..

<dons had hat and wanders into the trench, making sure i have a handful of nuts to keep me going whilst the fight ensues grin>

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