It seems that every year we keep on getting bad news about increased cancer rates, but is this disease really so unpreventable? Here at Health and Life we’ve examined all the data available on how best to avoid cancer, and it turns out one of the easiest ways of reducing your cancer risk is to adopt a meat-free diet. Not only that, but if you were to take this one step further and eliminate all animal products from your diet, your cancer risk would essentially plummet. No drugs, surgeries, supplements, just a change to what you put on your plate and in your mouth.
There have been many studies that have corroborated the theory that vegetarians and vegans have lower cancer rates than meat-eaters, but a 2012 analysis of all the most reliable studies concluded if you were to break the population into two groups, meat eaters and vegetarians, ‘the incidence of all cancers combined is lower among vegetarians’.
But this article isn’t specifically about vegetarians, its about vegans, so what does the evidence say in that regard? Well, a new study from Loma Linda university funded by the National Cancer Institute confirmed that vegans do indeed have lower cancer rates than vegetarians. Researchers found that vegan women had 34 percent lower rates of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. The comparison came not with meat lovers, but rather the vegan women were compared to individuals who ate just two servings of meat a week.
In order to understand why vegans have such a lower cancer risk, a series of experiments were conducted to determine which diets suppressed the growth of cancer the most. Individuals were placed on plant-based diets, and afterward their blood was dripped on human cancer cells growing in a petri dish. The results found that women who had been eating vegan diets for jus two weeks suppressed the growth of three different types of breast cancer. Similar results were discovered for men when studying prostate cancer too.
The bolstering of cancer defences after two weeks of eating a plant based diet is thought to be due to decreased levels of a cancer promoting hormone known as IGF-1. What we do know is that animal protein intake increases the level of IGF-1 in the body, but just two weeks of eliminating all animal products from ones diet leads to a significantly reduced level of IGF-1, that is linked with suppression of cancer growth.
The effects of removing all animal products from one’s diet are not solely limited to lowering cancer rates, but a recent study of thousands of American vegans found they too had lower rates of hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Indeed, Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn found in her research that eating a vegan diet caused more than 500 genes to mutate in only three months – whereby genes that prevent disease were turned on and genes that cause disease were turned off.