Vegetarian diets associated with lower risk of death

June 4, 2013 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Vegetarian diets associated with lower risk of death
Vegetarian diets are associated with reduced death rates in a study of more than 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists with more favorable results for men than women, according to a new report.

Vegetarian diets have been associated with reductions in risk for several chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease (IHD).

For the current study, researchers from Loma Linda University in California examined all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a group of 73,308 men and women Seventh-day Adventists. They assessed dietary patients using a questionnaire that categorized study participants into five groups: non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products).

Overall, 8 percent were vegans who didn't eat any animal products while 29 percent were lacto-ovo-vegetarians who didn't eat fish or meat but did eat dairy and egg products. Another 15 percent occasionally ate meat, including fish.

Overall, seven people died of any cause per 1,000 meat eaters over a year. That compared to about five or six deaths per 1,000 vegetarians every year. Men seemed to benefit the most from a plant-based diet.

The researchers cautioned, however, that they can't say the participants' plant-based diets prevented their deaths, because there may be other unmeasured differences between the groups. The vegetarian groups tended to be older, more highly educated and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, June 2013

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