Study Finds Plant-Based Diets Protect Against Digestive Cancers

Diet is a critical factor to individual health. Along with determining your intake of vitamins and minerals, diet can be protective against certain serious health concerns which may develop over time. Among these concerns are cancers of the digestive system, such as colon cancer. A new meta-analysis paper published in Frontiers of Public Health demonstrates that a plant-based diet can be protective against a variety of cancers affecting the digestive system. In short, eating your veggies is protective in a metaphorically similar way to a seatbelt or sunscreen.

Researchers at the Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine searched five English databases—including PubMed, Medline, Embase, Web of Science databases, and Scopus—for studies linking diets to cancers of the digestive system. The studies they collected included a total of 3,059,009 subjects. The results of the studies were meta-analyzed for effect sizes and confidence intervals. Essentially, the researchers wa
nted to collect the already discovered correlations between different populations and incidences of cancer.

“The overall analysis concluded that plant-based diets played a protective role in the risk of digestive system neoplasms,” the paper concludes. A neoplasm is abnormal tissue mass which grows in ways it shouldn't. They can be cancerous or benign. By looking at subgroups from the meta-analysis, the researchers also “demonstrated that the plant-based diets reduced the risk of cancers, especially pancreatic, colorectal, rectal, and colon cancers, in cohort studies. The correlation between vegan and other plant-based diets was compared using Z-tests, and the results showed no difference.”

Do you have to go vegan to reap these benefits? This might be unrealistic or undesirable for many people, but the study certainly shows that eating your veggies and transitioning towards a more plant-based diet could reap rewards in the long run.

A study has discovered that plant-based diets are protective against a variety of digestive system cancers.