Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California looked at 2,939 incidence cancer cases and found that meat-free eaters were 9 per cent less likely to develop cancer than meat-eaters.
Life looks rosier still for vegans: the study suggests that people who don’t eat meat or dairy are 16 per cent less likely to develop all cancers, while female vegans were 34 per cent less likely to develop female-only cancers, such as ovarian cancer.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians were a full quarter less likely to get cancers of the gastrointestinal system.
“Vegetarian diets seem to confer protection against cancer,” concluded the authors of the study, whose findings were published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal.
“Vegan diet seems to confer lower risk for overall and female-specific cancer than other dietary patterns,” they added. “The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets seem to confer protection from cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.”
Dietary factors are believed to be responsible for at least a third of all cancers in western countries.