Coffee klatch, Nutrition, food science and all that jazz, Vegan
Comments 19

Can going vegan prevent cancer?

Green, red and yellow bell peppers with carrots

Surprisingly, the answer seems to be yes. More precisely in this day and age of being careful what we say, a 2012 study shows that a vegan diet may reduce the risk of cancer. It gets better. I’ll get back to that in a minute, but first you may want to know where I’m getting this.

In November 2012, four researchers published a study on, Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Comparing the diets of more than 69,000 participants (all part of a larger research project known as “Adventist Health Study-2“) to the national cancer registry, the researchers looked for a correlation between those diets and cancer, if any. In their study sample (again 69,000 people), they identified five diet types as follows.

  • Non-vegetarians
  • Lacto
  • Pesco
  • Vegan
  • Semi-vegetarian

The abstract for the study doesn’t define these types, but we can get a pretty good idea, don’t you think? The researchers found that, in the sample population, nearly three thousand had cancer “incidents,” as they dubbed them. Their conclusions surprised me. I wonder if they will surprise you.

Study finds vegetarian and vegan diets may help prevent cancer

Veggie skillet with rice

Veggie skillet with rice

“Vegetarian diets seem to confer protection against cancer,” the researchers conclude in their abstract, linked above. But it’s this statement that really tells a story.

Vegan diet seems to confer lower risk for overall and female-specific cancer than other dietary patterns. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets seem to confer protection from cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Not only do the study results indicate a correlation between a vegan diet and lower risk for cancer in both male and female patients. A vegan diet may be especially helpful in reducing the risk of breast and other “female-specific” cancers.

Now, do I really need that bacon? Probably not, and I will admit it’s been months since I last had any, although I did have pepperoni on a pizza just last week. While we’ve reduced our meat and dairy consumption drastically in the last several years, we’re still flexitarians here at Chez Grace.

That makes me especially glad to see that a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet may help prevent cancer in the gastrointestinal tract, since I seem no where near close to going full-on vegan, though I’m slowly wending my way toward the idea.

What do you think?


♥  ♥  ♥

Shared on:
Real Food Fridays #137 – Putting health first


  1. Hi Kathryn,

    There is a lot of evidence that changing diet can in fact prevent/treat cancer. Here is a short list that I found the other day: Coincidence that so much of it consists of fruits & veggies? Probably not. Also- the Gerson Therapy diet! Look into that if you haven’t already.

    I am starting to learn about this stuff as I just started writing for a group called Answers for Angels ( It’s an organization that promotes holistic means of healing and helps people afford it. Pretty neat, right?

    Anyway, I am interested if you ever post any anti-cancer recipes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for providing that link, Lindsay. I checked it out. Lots of interesting information there! I do wish the authors had taken the time to link to the sources for their claims, don’t you? That’s always so helpful.

      I also checked the second URL you provided. What a heartbreaking story. I wish you all the best with your work there.

      Sadly, I don’t have the scientific background to promote my recipes as “anti-cancer.” I’m just a mom and grandmother who believes that organically-grown, whole foods and grains are the best possible sources of nutrition for strong, healthy bodies.

      Sometimes in the stories accompanying my recipes, I point to an abstract or article, as I did on this page, where researchers have found a correlation between certain foods, or their compounds, and health or disease.

      So if you, like me, feel that mostly vegetarian or vegan recipes, with an emphasis on whole grains and whole, fresh, organically-grown produce help to promote strong immune systems and good health, then please, do try some of mine! My aim is to make food that tastes as good as it is good for us.


  2. HI Kathryn,
    Very interesting article. I really don’t believe in the Vegan diet – to me it to extreme! I believe in moderation in every thing and eating real food that are organically grown or raised. To me that is the key. I just saw on TV last week where on doctor was in total disagreement with the vegan diet I think it was on the Dr OZ show. I had to agree with most of what he was saying.
    One thing you tend to get to much sugar from vegan diet. You lack B-12. gluathoine that comes mostly from meats which is really important for good health and is not in veggie. Animal protein contains all the essential amino acids in the right ratios. It is important for muscle mass and bone health, to name a few. Vegans don’t get any animal protein, which can have negative effects on body composition.Studies show that vegetarians are deficient in creatine, which has harmful effects on muscle and brain function. Carnosine is found only in animal foods and protects against various degenerative processes in the body and may protect against aging. Vegan diet seem to promote soy product for enough protein which I really don’t agree with since most soy is GM.
    The key to be is you need to find what works for you and use common sense with moderation. Eating or organic and local is important whether it is meat or veggie.
    . Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays blog hop. Pinned & tweeted!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughtful response, Marla. That’s exactly what I love to see on these “Coffee Klatch” posts–discussion and differing points of view. I found the scientific evidence for cancer prevention in a vegan diet rather compelling in that study, but I understand there are strong views about the need for some humans at least to consume a meat diet. We have certain health considerations here that have us leaning away from animal-based foods, although I doubt I can ever give up eggs and butter. I’m a baker!


      • Hi Kathryn,
        It funny how I have to have meats due to health problem – especially my food allergies and sensitivities – if I didn’t eat animal products I would starve to death since I can not eat many fruits and vegetables but seem to do pretty well with most meats as long as they are organic and local. My body needs the meat protein to keep going.
        As I said before we need to find what our body needs and stick with that. Happy Spring!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes indeed, Marla. While in India some years ago, my daughter studied ayurvedic medicine. From what I understand, food and medicine can never be “one size (or method or lifestyle) fits all.” What we need is to pay attention to what our body is telling us, in addition to responding to other factors based on our region and genetics. It seems you have done just that.


  3. Interesting reading! Certainly making better food choices improves health and longevity. I’m not convinced that going vegan is the way to go since you cannot get B12 from veggies. There is increasing evidence that too much sugar (read refined carbs, esp. grains) is leading us down the slippery slope to poor health. The low-fat recommendations are also being challenged now too. Everything in moderation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Moderation is a key for me too, though chocolate sometimes gets the better of me on that score. Still, these study results are rather intriguing, don’t you think?


  4. I like the ‘flexitarian’ concept, although the term sounds a touch … silly. As for the cancer, I think it is a bit too general – is it the meat that makes the difference? Is all animal products? And there is the organic consideration- maybe its the pesticides and all the other additives? I like the flexible approach to a vegan diet. Lots of good vegies, grains, nuts and beans. But hard to make any conclusions on cancer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking a look, Marcin. Did you follow the link to the abstract? Nearly 69,000 individuals is a large sampling, and the correlations are pretty clear for each diet type, with vegan and lacto-ovo vegetarian apparently giving the biggest benefits.

      Liked by 1 person

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