But can it, really? Another media story you may have seen so I thought I’d look into it for you. The headlines: a study of over 61,000 people aged 20-89 found those who did not eat meat had a reduced overall incidence of cancer of 12%. Leukaemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma was down by 45%. Bladder & stomach tumours were also significantly less in vegetarians. The research was published in the British Journal of Cancer.
On the face of it, this sounds great, but we do have to be a bit careful here. Often in my experience, vegetarians are following very poor diets and not really eating a healthy diet, meat-free or not. There is usually a high pasta and cheese consumption and, surprisingly, not very much veg, fruit, pulses, nuts, seeds or whole grains! Personally, my take on it is that if you can eat a healthy fishitarian diet including all those elements I’ve mentioned above, you’re not going to go far wrong. Also, you’ve got to consider the type of meat you eat: an organic steak (or indeed a Debbie & Andrew’s sausage!) is very different to corned beef, bacon and processed meat.
Tim Key of Cancer Research UK at Oxford University also sounded caution and said they are not sure whether it is the protective effect of eating more vegetables or something about the meat & called for more research. John Briffa also gave an interesting response about whether it was the fact that people didn’t eat meat, or that non-meat eaters tend to look after themselves more in terms of not smoking, drinking too much and getting exercise and fluids. Here’s a link to what he had to say: http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/2009/07/01/dont-be-fooled-by-the-study-which-found-lower-cancer-rates-in-vegetarians/