Think of a healthy diet rich in fish and vegetables, the first thought that probably pops up in your mind is the heart. True, these foods have been associated with improving heart health for a long time now, but there’s a lot more to it than just that.
It turns out, the findings of a new study have revealed that these foods may actually help cut down the risk of colon cancer, which is the third most common non-skin cancer diagnosed in the US. Colon cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in both men and women, and around 93,000 individuals die of this disease annually.
While the exact cause of colon cancer is still a mystery, there are several speculations that have come up in the recent years, all of them revolving around the diet.
A team of researchers at the Loma Linda University, California, have studied dietary data obtained from around 77,000 men and women who enrolled in a large study. They then assessed the diet of these participants by using a food frequency questionnaire and categorized them into one of the five- vegan, lacto-ovo (those who consumed milk and eggs), vegetarian, pescovegetarian (fish eating) and semivegetarian (meat eating). They then compared the results obtained from individuals who followed these dietary patterns to those who had non-vegetarian dietary habits.
They also assessed the new cases of colon and rectum cancers in these subjects and found that those from the pescovegetarian group had 43% reduced risk of developing the cancers. Next came the lacto-ovo vegetarians with 18% reduced risk followed by the vegans and then the semivegetarians with 16% and 8% reduced risk.
“Vegetarian diets are associated with an overall lower incidence of colorectal cancers,” the researchers explained. “Pescovegetarians in particular have a much lower risk compared with nonvegetarians. If such associations are causal, they may be important for primary prevention of colorectal cancers.