Vegetarian diet may cut cancer risk

Eating a meat-free, vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, suggests research published in the "British Journal of Cancer." Researchers followed more than 10,000 people for 17 years, and found that vegetarians were 15% less likely to develop colorectal cancer than meat-eaters.

This research adds to the "increasing scientific evidence" that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fiber and low in meat--especially red and processed meat--can prevent colorectal cancer, said the study's author Dr. Miguel Sanjoaquin of the University of Oxford, UK.

Along with a decreased risk of cancer from eating vegetarian, the investigators found that frequent fruit eaters--consuming more than 5 servings of fruit per week--were over 40% less likely to develop colorectal cancer.

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating more than 15 slices of white bread per week appeared to increase the risk of colorectal cancer, according to the report.

Sanjoaquin said the fact that white bread affected cancer risk was "unexpected," and suggested that people who ate large amounts of white bread might have simply had a less healthy diet overall.

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