I myself eat meat every few days and consume it weekly. This means I am not a vegetarian and I am in fact at a higher risk of cancer because of the chemicals meat forms inside of me. There are however a number of people who choose vegetarian lifestyles that reduce their risk of cancer. Vegans, lacto vegetarians, lacto – ovo vegetarians, and ovo vegetarians. But in this post we will be focusing on vegan diets.
The previous blogs we have talked about how eating meat, and smoking increase your risk of cancer. In this blog we are talking about how having a vegan diet can decrease your risk of cancer.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is where person consumes absolutely no animal meat or their by-products. This means red meat, white meat, poultry, fowl, fish, honey, beeswax, gelatin, milk, cheese and butter are not allowed in this diet. Vegans also do not wear any animal products, such as leather and wool.
How does a vegan diet decrease your risk of cancer?
Explained in my first blog is the fact that meat produces N-Nitroso in the gut and damages the cells that line the bowel. The replication that is required to repair the cells can over replicate and cause cancer.
Therefore vegans cutting meat from their diet stops their bowels from being exposed to this toxic compound.
A vegan diet essentially consists of mainly fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Because vegan diets consist mainly of vegetables vegans are exposed to lots of carotenoids. Carotenoids are the pigments that gives fruit and vegetables their yellow, green and orange colours.
Among these carotenoids is Beta – Carotene, this carotenoid is shown to act as an immune booster, an antioxidant and it can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is thought to be an anti – cancer agent, vitamin A plays a role in in regulating cell growth and differentiation. The link between vitamin A and has not yet been completely determined. But it is believed that the vitamin can act in the progression phase of carcinogenesis and block the development of invasive carcinoma at sites in the body like the head, neck and lung.
The vegan diet is also shown to change the levels of a cancer – promoting growth hormone called IGF-1. This hormone is otherwise known as the insulin – like growth factor. Vegans are shown to have sufficiently lower levels than meat eaters. IGF-1 has effects on specific stages of cancer and is shown to inhibit apoptosis (cell death) and has resistance to chemotherapy. Therefore vegans having lower levels of it helps these key stages to work against cancer.
What are the statistics?
Individuals with a vegan diet have been shown to have decreased risk of:
These cancers are shown to be decreased in vegan diets compared to those of meat eaters.
Ethical implications of being Vegan
There are many ethical implications of being vegan:
Those are three of the main reasons people turn vegan. Now we know it has been shown to reduce cancer risk. We are not 100% sure of the reason behind this but it they have shown a strong association towards each other.
In my three blogs we have talked about how consuming meat and smoking can cause cancer and we have summed up on how to decrease our cancer risk.
Now I’m not saying we have to boycott meat or immediately stop smoking.
But cut down on your meat consumption and slowly cut out smoking.
It’s worth cutting down these habits to live a happier and healthy life – with a decreased risk of cancer… Among other health benefits.
Cancer active 2012, Beta – carotene – beward inferior synthetic copies, Cancer active, retrieved 30 April 2016 <http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=535>
Ethical consumer 2016, the ethical benefits of not eating meat, retrieved 30 April 2016, <http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/commentanalysis/animalrights/whatisveganism.aspx>
Orthomolecular 2008, Vitamin A: Cancer cure of Cancer cause?, Riordan Clinic, retrieved 30 April 2016, <http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n09.shtml>
Ribbons, R 2015, Why I’ve decided to go vegan, retrieved 30 April 2016, <http://www.roxeterawr.com/2015/10/why-ive-decided-to-go-vegan.html>
Vegetariannation, Types of Vegetarianism, retrieved 30 April 2016, <http://www.vegetarian-nation.com/resources/common-questions/types-levels-vegetarian/