In a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, it was found that people who followed a vegetarian diet had a lower risk for death from any cause. In addition, specifically men, also saw benefits for cardiovascular mortality.
All cause mortality was reduced by 12% according to Michael Orlich, M.D. who is the principal investigator in the study.
In men, cardiovascular mortality was significantly reduced by 29% as was death from coronary artery disease which was also reduced by 29%, in men who followed this diet.
The authors are quoted as saying “Vegetarian dietary patterns have been associated with reductions in risk for several chronic diseases, such as hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, and ischemic heart disease, which might be expected to result in lower mortality.”
This was a very large study which was why it was able to be published in JAMA. They looked at over 73,000 participants, whose mean age was 58 and roughly 2/3 of the participants were women.
The follow-up was for almost 6 years and over that time there were over 2000 deaths.
There were no obvious reductions in deaths from cancer according to the researchers.Interestingly, women had no significant reductions in deaths from cardiovascular disease.
The authors stated “The heterogeneous nature of cancer may obscure specific diet – cancer associations in analysis of combined cancer mortality, and lack of significance may reflect insufficient power to detect weaker associations at early follow-up.” This basically means because there are so many different types of cancers, that they would have needed an even larger group of people to find statistically significant connections with all the types of cancer.
Robert Baron MD of the University of California at San Francisco wrote an invited commentary to the article. In it he said, “First and foremost, dietary advice needs to be given to patients based on their own dietary history and preferences, their motivation to change their diet, and their clinical circumstances.”.
I totally agree with this last statement as you cannot force anybody to change their diet. It has to come from within them. I know all my patients and readers will agree with that.