Cancer: The popular January diet that could cut your risk of developing cancer by 19%

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One in two people will develop some type of cancer during their life, the NHS reports. spoke to Dr Shireen Kassam, who is a consultant haematologist, about how a vegan diet can help lower the risk of three “most common” cancers.

Dr Shireen Kassam, who is also a founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, explained that components of a vegan diet like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts can cut the risk of cancer.

The doctor said: “These include fibre and numerous vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

“These foods and nutrients help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, lower growth hormone levels including oestrogen…and hence address the underlying mechanisms that generate cancer-causing cells.”

A vegan diet is often taken up by many during the month of January, also labelled as Veganuary, which was started by a non-profit organisation back in 2014.

However, nowadays more people than ever are interested in becoming vegan, with more than a third of people in the UK expressing this in a recent YouGov survey.

A vegan diet doesn’t only benefit your health because of what you eat but also because of what you don’t eat.

Dr Kassam said: “By removing processed and unprocessed red meat from the diet, you are avoiding known group 1 and group 2a carcinogens.

“Removing dairy may also be associated with a reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer.

In case you’re not familiar, carcinogens are agents that may cause cancer in humans.

The consultant haematologist isn’t the only one claiming red and processed meat to cause cancer as various research has established this link.

Processed red meat does the exact opposite of a healthy varied vegan diet as it causes DNA damage, inflammation, growth of hormones and other problems, the doctor explained.

She added: “When you cook meat, you generate cancer-causing compounds, such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”

What types of cancer can benefit from a vegan diet?

The doctor listed the three “most common cancers”, according to the NHS, which are breast, prostate and bowel cancer.

She also said: “The main studies that have addressed this question are the EPIC-Oxford study which showed that vegans had a 19 percent reduction in the risk of total cancer.

“In addition, a study from France showed that a healthy plant-based diet, not necessarily 100 percent vegan, reduced overall cancer risk by 15 percent.”

So, if you don’t feel ready to do the full leap just yet, introducing more plant-based options may also have some benefits.

How long do I have to eat vegan before seeing the results?

Dr Kassam noted: “Some benefits are immediate, within a few weeks, such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower blood glucose, lower inflammation.

“There will also be benefits for longer-term health including a significant reduction in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, certain cancers and now there is even evidence that a healthy plant-based diet can reduce the severity of COVID-19.”

She added that by reducing your risk of common chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, you can further encourage the lower risk of getting cancer.

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