Vegetarians And Cancer: Study Yields Surprising Data

There's something refreshing about experimental results that don't agree with researcher hypothesis. It gives scientists more credibility if once in awhile things don't go as they assume. But in the case of a recent British study on diet and cancer, the results just seem weird.

Research undertaken by Cancer Research, UK at Oxford University, looked at a sample of 52,700 healthy volunteers between the ages of 20 to 89, over several years. The group was divided into four categories: meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. The categories were based on what was included in the diet of each group, starting from vegans, so that each group included more food groups into their diets.

The group, as a whole, had fewer cancers than the general population, probably because they were healthy to begin with. Among the groups though, the meat eaters had a higher incidence of different kinds of cancer than the fish eaters and the vegetarians. So far, so good. The researchers' hypotheses, and what most of us would forecast, that healthier people would have fewer cancers and that, among them, meat eaters might be at higher risk for cancer.

All except for colorectal cancer, which showed a higher incidence among fish-eaters and vegetarians, than among meat eaters! Let me state now that this finding is not all refreshing, but it is shocking!

Head researcher, Professor Tim Key, admitted the group was surprised at the findings. He suggested that the team needed to look more closely at what it is about meat that may provide some protection from colorectal cancer and not other kinds of cancer.

Dr. Joanne Lunn from the British Nutrition Foundation suggested that there may have been lifestyle factors other than diet that contributed to the findings.

Or maybe they need a larger sample?

What do you think?

BBC News


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