A study involving 60,000 people found that Vegetarians are generally less likely than meat eaters to develop cancer although this did not apply to all forms of the disease. The study is published in the British Journal of Cancer. It found that those who followed a vegetarian diet developed notably fewer cancers of the blood, bladder and stomach.
A vegetarian however did not seem to decrease the risk of bowel cancer, which is a major killer.
Vegetarians had fewer of the following cancers:
Overall results suggested that in the general population about 33 people in 100 will develop cancer during their lifetime, but for those who do not eat meat that risk is reduced to about 29 in 100.
There were also differences in rates of stomach cancer, concluding that fish-eaters and vegetarians were about a third as likely to develop the disease as meat-eaters.
However the relative risk for fish-eaters and vegetarians of cervical cancer was twice that of meat-eaters. The number of cases was small, and could be down to chance but the researchers said it was possible that dietary factors influenced the virus behind cervical cancer.
Professor Tim Key, the lead author, said:
“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.”