Could removing red meat from your diet lower your risk of colorectal cancer? 63



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Colorectal (or bowel) cancer is the leading cause of burden of disease in Australia and accounts for around 13 per cent of all cancers. So could a vegetarian diet lower of risk of this terrible disease?

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, eating a vegetarian diet could lower the risk of colorectal cancer diagnosis. The study compared meat eaters with vegetarians among Seventh-Day Adventist men and women and among the 77,659 study participants, there were 380 cases of colon cancer and 110 cases of rectal cancer. Researchers from Loma Linda University in California found that vegetarians had a 22 per cent lower risk for all colorectal cancers, 19 per cent lower risk for colon cancer, and 29 per cent lower risk of rectal cancer. Vegans came out even more favourably, and when compared with meat eaters vegans had a 16 per cent lower risk of colorectal cancer, 18 per cent less for lacto-ovo (eat milk and eggs) vegetarians, 43 per cent less in pescovegetarians (eat fish) and 8 per cent less in semivegetarians, according to study results.

In the past, it has been known that red meat is linked to an increased risk in colorectal cancer but until now, a study hasn’t compared diets in such a way.

The study’s authors said, “If such associations are causal, they may be important for primary prevention of colorectal cancers. … The evidence that vegetarian diets similar to those of our study participants 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”.


What do you think about this new evidence? Do you think that red meat causes colorectal issues? Tell us below.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. The main problem with eating red meat is that it is sluggish going through the intestines. We need to eat a lot of roughage to move it through fast. This can be done with whole grain bread and large helpings of vegetables and fruit. I am vegetarian and have been for many years.

    1 REPLY
  2. Why don’t we just give up eating & drinking altogether ? It seems no matter what we eat or drink we run the risk of some illness I’m just going to continue my diet & to hell with it!!!!

    4 REPLY
    • Go Michael, I’m sick and tired of the gloom and doom articles from starts at sixty. I’m nearly seventy and perfectly healthy. When I was a kid we used to eat loads of bread and dripping (meat fat) tons of spuds, so why is it all of a sudden deadly dangerous for us? I wish I could stop this mob posting on my f/b page.

    • How is your good cholesterol and blood pressure.
      If your arteries are not slowly hardening or thickening then you are not likely to have a stroke or heart attack next year. Plenty of people have said ‘but he seemed so healthy’.
      Check Your Fasting Chol.
      Most of our ancestors ate fruit and seeds then later meat became available.
      We don’t chew long enough for enzymes to help break down food either.

    • But it is good to open the discussion and try to quell the anxiety that is being generated by ‘foodie’ freaks who imply blame to those who get serious diseases. I mean there are still people who say you can cure cancer by ‘ eating’ certain foods! They ought to be ashamed.

  3. Yeah right. Where do you get your iron from. I am not going to eat a mountain of spinach. If we all become vegetarians there won’t be many animals around as we can only drink so much milk. Also leather goods will be gone as where will you get it from. The country will be overrun with sheep goats and llamas. But wait We won’t get colorectal cancer. Probably get hit by a car and we will be dead anyway. Think I will keep eating red meat.

  4. Wendy, all vegetables have iron in them. Potatoes are quite rich in iron. The darker the green, the more iron. Believe it or not, I don’t eat munch spinach. Being vegetarian saves a lot of cruelty to animals. There is no humane way to kill an animal. Why eat second hand protein when you can get it first hand from the same source animals do? I accept that we all have the freedom to eat what we want to and with this, we accept the results of the diet we use.

  5. Don’t really care, could happily give up eating vegetables, (have never liked them, & I’m in my late sixties now). But have always loved my meat. I do make sure I eat plenty of fibre as well.

  6. They may have a point about red meat. Whilst living in UK we could rarely afford meat but, after emigrating to Australia 26 years ago and eating stacks of red meat, I got kidney cancer and my husband got bowel cancer. Could just be coincidence but we have cut down now on red meat and have more fish and chicken.

  7. Another on of these things not to eat. You dont accually live longer, it just seams that way.

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