Vegetarian Diet May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Published Online: Saturday, June 1, 2002

A lifelong commitment to a vegetarian diet may protect women from developing breast cancer. Researchers examined the breast cancer rate among South Asian women who migrated to England and maintained their native vegetarian diet and those who adopted a Western-style diet. After adjusting for demographic variables and use of hormones, it was found that women who maintained a vegetarian diet had a 33% lower risk of developing breast cancer, compared with women who changed to a Western-style diet, as reported in the International Journal of Cancer.

No association between meat consumption and breast cancer was found. Instead, the researchers suggested that the lower breast cancer rates among vegetarians may be linked to their higher intake of vegetables, legumes, and fiber. In fact, women with the highest intake of vegetables, legumes, and fiber had a 50% lower risk of breast cancer, compared with women with the lowest intake.

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