Though I am not a dietician, as a busy cancer coach I review a lot of food and beverage diaries and discuss them in the context of my personally curated anticancer foods list.
More than half of those I coach are vegans and vegetarians. Many of you on this list know that my diet over the last 30 years has been what I’ve coined plant-strong with cold water, omega-3-rich fish—omitting dairy, added sugars, or processed foods of any kind when they can be avoided.
Just like a heavy animal protein diet from poorly sourced options, a vegetarian and vegan diet can also create a pro-cancer environment. Put simply, a vegan or vegetarian diet can absolutely negatively impact one’s health.
I’ve seen plenty of (client) food and beverage journals packed with processed carryout vegan and vegetarian foods, faux meat substitute options, fried foods, fruit juices, white potatoes, white rice, processed cheese substitutes, frozen dinners. You get the point: these so-called vegan and vegetarian diets are unhealthy and can promote disease, including cancer.
So, it was no surprise but quite interesting nonetheless to see the recent study results in a newly published paper in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that the quality of a plant-based diet correlated with better or worse incidence of pancreatic cancer in over 100,000 individuals.
Unfortunately, prospective epidemiological studies to date have not compared those eating a higher quality, more nutritious plant-based diet, to diets chiefly packed with processed-ladened ingredients. It was either plant-based or carnivore, without nuance. However, this latest study was handled much differently.
The authors of the AJCN-published paper compared those eating an unhealthy plant-based diets to those consuming a healthy plant-based diet based on USDA’s Healthy Eating Index.
Want to take a deeper dive? Here’s the published paper:
Plant-based diets and the risk of pancreatic cancer: a large prospective multicenter study
The bottom-line results?
- The overall plant-based diet (‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’) saw a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer by a remarkable 26%.
- Those consuming a healthy plant-based diet saw their pancreatic cancer risk decline by a striking 44%
- Those consuming an unhealth plant-based diet saw an increased incidence of pancreatic cancer by a stunning 38%.
The Clear Takeaway
Not all vegan or vegetarian diets are created equal. The level and variety of anticancer properties vary greatly between healthy and unhealthy plant-based diets.
Where to start? My anticancer foods list is the perfect source to finetune your grocery list.
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