London, July 1 (ANI): Vegetarians may be less likely than meat eaters to develop cancers of the blood, bladder and stomach, suggests a study.
Lead researcher Professor Tim Key, however, insists that this may not be the case for all forms of the disease.
Scientists from universities in the UK and New Zealand examined 61,566 British men and women, including meat-eaters, those who ate fish but not meat, and those who did not ate either.
The researchers found that while nearly 33 people in 100 in the general population would develop cancer during their lifetime, for those who abstained from meat the risk was reduced to about 29 in 100.
The study discovered considerable differences between meat-eaters and vegetarians in the propensity to cancers of the lymph and the blood, with the latter just over half as likely to develop these forms of the disease.
Vegetarians were observed to get notably fewer of stomach, bladder, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma cancers.
But Key warned that the findings, published in the British Journal of Cancer, were not strong enough to draw absolute conclusions.
“At the moment these findings are not strong enough to ask for particularly large changes in the diets of people following an average balanced diet,” the BBC quoted Key as saying.
A spokesperson for Cancer Research UK, which funded the research, added: “These interesting results add to the evidence that what we eat affects our chances of developing cancer. 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.”
Myeloma UK also said: “Dietary advice to myeloma patients remains aligned with national guidance – that they should eat a healthy, balanced diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat, salt and red and processed meat.”
Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Science and Research Programme Manager for the World Cancer Research Fund, further said: “The suggestion that vegetarians might be at reduced risk of blood cancers is particularly interesting. However, this finding should be treated with caution since not much is known about the link between diet and these types of cancer. Further studies of vegetarians are needed before we can be confident this is actually the case.” (ANI)