A 3d rendered illustration of the anatomy of a cancer cell A 3D-rendered illustration of the anatomy of a cancer cell. - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Meat-Free Diet Reduces Cancer Risk By 14%, Says Oxford University Study

Compared to eating meat, following a vegetarian or vegan diet was associated with the lowest risk of developing cancer

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A new large-scale study, co-funded by World Cancer Research Fund and Cancer Research UK, found that following a vegetarian or vegan diet is associated with the lowest risk of developing cancer when compared to eating meat, including fish.

The Oxford-based team investigated the relationship between diet and cancer risk by analyzing data from over 472,000 British adults collected from the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010.

This comes just weeks after the European Parliament called on the EU to promote a plant-based diet in order to fight cancer.

Meat-free diet

The participants reported how often they ate meat, and were grouped into four different categories depending on their diet type, as follows:

Group 1: Regular meat eaters (those who ate meat more than five times a week)

Group 2: Low amount of meat consumers (those who ate meat five times or less per week)

Group 3: Pescatarians (those who ate fish and plant-based food)

Group 4: Vegetarians (diets free of all meat)

All participants were free from cancer at the time they were recruited, and they were followed for more than 11 years to see if they developed any.

Over the course of the study, 12 percent of participants, which amounted to 54,961 people, developed different types of cancer ranging from prostate cancer to postmenopausal breast cancer. 

When compared to regular meat-eaters, being a low meat-eater was associated with a two percent lower risk of cancer. Meanwhile, pescatarians had a 10 percent reduced risk and vegetarians were 14 percent less likely to develop cancer.

Types of cancer

In terms of specific types of cancer, the researchers found that:

  • Low-meat eaters had a nine percent lower risk of developing bowel cancer when compared to regular meat-eaters
  • Vegetarian women were 18 percent less likely to develop postmenopausal breast cancer compared with those who regularly ate meat
  • Vegetarian men had a 31 percent lower risk of prostate cancer 
  • Pescatarian men had a 20 percent lower risk of prostate cancer

While the researchers found that being a low meat-eater, pescatarian or vegetarian was associated with a lower risk of all cancer, other factors such as smoking and body mass index may also play a part.  

The study ultimately suggests that specific dietary behavior, such as reduced meat consumption or following a vegetarian diet, can have a positive impact on reducing the risk of certain cancers.

This is in line with the World Cancer Research Fund’s long-standing advice that people should limit their intake of red and processed meat and eat more whole foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and pulses.

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The Author

Riya Lakhani-Kanji

Riya Lakhani-Kanji is a writer and registered nutritionist. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based

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Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Imagine how much better than that whole foods plant based diets are in regards to cancer rates? Can’t wait to see the data on that. Because vegetarians still eat eggs and cheese sources of Neu5Gc, and high levels of methionine.

Philip MacNaughton
Philip MacNaughton
5 months ago

You didn’t go into any detail regarding the study. Where’s the actual evidence? I’ll never understand the Plant based/vegan community. Why neglect such an essential food with so many micronutrients you can’t get from plants that are ancestors have been eating for millions of years, far beyond are grain eating days which didn’t start since agriculture was introduced within the last 10,000 years. Not to mention, the grains today are far different than the the ancient ones eaten before. Seed oils, and grains are to blame for chronic disease we see today.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

What micronutrients that you can’t get from plants?

Obviously oil is unhealthy. We know that.

The study itself is linked in the article.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

“Obviously oil is unhealthy. We know that” On whose authority, yours? Olive Oil? Fat soluble vitamins?

Matt
Matt
5 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

Really Rowland? On Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr.’s authority. You see oil oxidizes lipoproteins and as a result it damages the endothelium. A major cause of cardiovascular disease. It’s also 9 calories per gram, the most calorie dense substance we have. You have already demonstrated that your knowledge regarding nutrition is poor, with your “listen to your body” approach. But if you want to get into it we can talk about nutritional science.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Is this the same Dr Esselstyn that is supposedly claimed to be a “vegan evangelist” and prescribes statins to his patients. So in spite of the fact that science claims that that knowledge of the effects of food on the human body is still in it’s infancy and nearly all of the unbiased papers I have read end in the phrase “ more research needs to be undertaken” you seem to know it all. I’m impressed!

By by Matt.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

He’s not a vegan (your bias is showing again Rowland). He states that specifically. However he did employ a whole foods plant based diet to reverse cardiovascular disease. Of course more research is needed. Do you have the slightest inkling of how complex the science of nutrition is? Probably not, you still believe meat is necessary, olive oil is healthy, and starches are bad for us. The 80s called for you, and it wants the Atkins diet back. You are so clueless in this field you follow “instinctive eating”. Instead of using first principles to actually discover what an optimal human diet is. You don’t even understand the importance of cooked starches in recent human evolution.

I don’t blame you for bowing out of this one, because you know when it comes to this topic you are way out of your depth.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

You do understand that the three macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat, right?

Ravenndd
Ravenndd
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Do you understand the FDA only lists two of those as essential? That means if you never eat one of those and live perfectly fine. I will let you guess which one. Here is a hint it’s carbohydrates. You don’t have to eat carbs because it is the only one your body can produce on its own.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago

These data do not mean what you think they do. If avoiding meat on it’s own was really that healthy, one would expect a much higher number than just 14%. Now if not even the BMI is considered, you can basically trash that evidence. Because as it plays, people who don’t eat meat simply don’t eat as much unhealthy food and tend to be slimmer, which on it’s own reduces your cancer risk. Whereas most (processed) meat comes in a terrible package of plant oils and white bread.

If anything, this study suggests that eating meat within a balanced diet and without ingesting too many calories probably does not increase your cancer risk. Which partially refutes the claim that red meat on it’s own is a carcinogen.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Are you aware of the research that causally links Neu5Gc and heme iron (chemicals only found in meat) with carcinogenesis? And that high levels of the amino acid methionine (found in high concentrations in meat) supercharges tumor growth?

Also, that study doesn’t even include vegans, and most tellingly of all does not include people eating a whole foods plant based diet. Their highest quality diet here is vegetarian. Someone who could still be eating copious amounts of eggs and cheese and all the junk food you could imagine.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Heme iron, nitrites and heterocyclic amines are possible candidates for carcinogenic effects. It has been suggested in the past that plant fiber, as well as the microbiome, can reduce the negative effects of these substances.

It’s true that a vegan diet group would have been interesting in this context. However, for the purpose of just isolating the meat, a vegetarian diet should be enough. Furthermore, as the BMI wasn’t regarded at all, the vegan group might not have been healthier (in case of vegans with a high BMI).

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

The problem with including vegetarians is this: Cheese and eggs are effectively a form of meat. An egg has the exact same make up as a baby chicken. Cheese is concentrated milk which is essentially liquid meat.

So if you really want to look at the effects of meat better to include a population that doesn’t eat any kind of animal excretions.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

That’s somewhat correct, but we don’t eat baby chickens, we eat adult chickens. And there is a clear difference between the two. Cheese and meat are two entirely different things. Yes, both are high in protein and animal fat, but cheese does not contain any heme iron at all, but instead a lot of calcium. The protein is different too – casein and whey, versus muscle fiber.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Muscle fiber isn’t a protein. It contains protein. The concern when looking at protein is the amino-acid profile. The amino-acid profile found in animal flesh is very similar to that of dairy. The problematic thing about the amino-acid profile of these foods is the high ratio of the sulphur containing amino acids cystine and methionine. Methionine has been shown to boost tumor growth, so much so that methionine restriction has been used as a cancer treatment. Plant based diets for example are naturally lower in methionine and that may be one reason why it is widely recognised that plant based diets reduce cancer rates.

Casine as you have mentioned is high in methionine. It is also common in the Western diet consumed in cheese. This is understood to be an important chemical carsinogen. Beyond the protein itself there are other chemicals in meat and dairy. Hormones, the aforementioned sialic acid Neu5Gc, IGF-1, these chemicals can initiate and grow cancer. Neu5Gc as an inflammatory compound illiciting an autoimmune response as it incorporates itself into the surface of our cells.

For these reasons it you really want to understand how various “animal proteins” effect cancer grown better to compare to someone purely plant based. Not only is the plant based person eating protein containing a preferable amino-acid profile with reduced sulphur containing amino-acids. They are also not ingesting mamalian growth hormones or chemicals analagus to ones in their own body which cause inflammation through an autoimmune response. There is also zero heme iron and TAMO, an increased amout of fiber (as you mentioned) which is also an important factor.

These studies do exist and show a clear reduction in cancer rates amongst plant based eaters. Suggesting that meat does indeed initiate and grow cancer through multiple mechanisms and is best avoided.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Muscle fiber literally consists of amino acid strings that are tightly woven around each other. Saying that muscle fiber isn’t a protein is like saying starch isn’t a carbohydrate. If you want then we can agree that muscle fiber is made up of myosin, actin and collagen, which are proteins. Which doesn’t change the argument at all, that the make-up of muscle meat and cheese is entirely different.

Methionine and cysteine are also essential amino acids (cysteine can only be made from methionine), so taking in enough of these amino acids is necessary for health. Plant food amino acid composition is actually infavorable for human health, in the way that certain amino acids are underrepresented. I agree that consuming high amounts of animal protein may net too much methionine, but in the same way consuming plant proteins may result in a lack of this important amino acid. So both have risks.

There is no evidence that casein is a carcinogen. Even the claim that red meat in and of itself is a carcinogen is doubtful. With the level of evidence that we have, we could also claim that plant foods containing phytates and lectins are carcinogens. Cell culture experiments don’t translate well to the human organism, because blood and cellular fluids are tightly controlled, unlike cell culture medium. This is why we have kidneys. I can see an increase in circulating IGF-1 from milk consumption. How this ties into cancer, however, is still questionable.

https://doi [DOT] org/10.1093/jnci/93.17.1330

Future data may help shed a light on the actual situation, but until then it’s too early to call something a carcinogen based on biochemical theories and evidence from cell culture experiments.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

What I mean to say regarding the word “protein” is that we shouldn’t confuse a food with protein. Protein is in food. Potatoes contain protein, but are referred to as carbohydrates. I just wanted to make the distinction between how the word is used in common usage and analysis of different amino-acid profiles.

Now regarding amino-acid profiles in meat vs plants. Yes methionine is an essential amino acid. But too much of a good thing is bad. This is my point regarding plant vs. animal sources of amino-acids.

Arround 100 years ago there was an emphasis on so called “high quality” protein. High concentrations of amino-acids easily absorbed leading to rapid growth. From a time where malnutrition was a real consern. But this emphasis on high quality protein is misplaced. In a time where food is abundant protein deficiency is not a concern at all. It is impossible to be protein deficient on a plant diet so long as the person in taking in adequate calories from whole foods. Plant protein is absorbed more slowly by the body than animal protein making it gentler on the body. Where animal protein is absorbed and incorporated more rapidy it accelerates growth which leads to inflammation and can be a cause of cancer.

So the obsession with protein from a time of widespread malnutrition is actually outdated and now the concept that animal protein is preferable is a mistaken idea. A relic from times past. It’s preferable for rapid growth but in the context of ideal human health and longevity, that is actually a detriment. Especially when you consider the other chemicals that come packaged along with animal protein, many inflammatory compounds that ultimately lead to inflammation and disease.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Your objection is that BMI could be a confounding factor? People that eat meat have a higher BMI so if a higher BMI increases cancer rates (which it does) then you can’t screen that out of your results. That would be ignoring an effect of having meat in the diet. The fact that people whom eat meat have a higher BMI is part of the very reason WHY it causes cancer.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

You are correct. The BMI is likely a confounding factor here.

If meat causes cancer through a higher BMI, then the meat itself doesn’t cause cancer, a higher BMI does. Thus, meat would not be a carcinogen like, say, tobacco smoke.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

That makes no sense. If you screen out the effect of a food you are reducing the accuracy of your results. You need to examine all the ways meat promotes cancer. There are multiple mechanisms. An increase in obesity is but one of them.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Obesity is not a valid way in which meat causes cancer because meat doesn’t cause obesity. A calory intake that’s too high causes obesity. Both just happen to correlate because the Western diet is both high in calories AND meat.

The more you screen out singular factors, the more accurate your results get, because you are removing confounders.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Meat is a calorically dense food. And it has been found to increase obesity for that reason. So what should be done is determine the percentage of obesity caused by meat consumption in the diet. For argument sake let’s say 50%. Then ajust for 50% of the obesity. Because if you remove the factor of BMI entirely you are actually blunting your results in favour of meat not causing cancer. That would be scientifically dishonest and return a deceptive result.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Meat is not generally a calorically dense food. Lean meat is, in fact, calorically not dense at all, and is very satiating to boot. Protein contains 4 kcal per gram, muscle meat is usually 20% protein and 80% water, so 100 g of lean meat contains 20 g of protein and thus, only 80 kcal. Only meat with large fatty cuts is calorically dense, but again, is also quite satiating. It’s usually not the meat itself, it’s the package the meat comes with that causes the obesity, i.e. lots of oils or pure animal fats, simple carbohydrates and flavor enhancers.

There are many people who lose a lot of weight on vegan diets, but many people also lose weight on low carb or paleo diets that consist of meat and vegetables. Therefore, to evaluate the effect of meat as a food itself on health, you have to eliminate the BMI as a confounding factor. Just because most people combine meat with other unhealthy foods that raise their BMI, does not mean that meat itself raises the BMI. Anybody who claims anything else is just trying to sell a story rather than facts.

You wouldn’t claim that becoming vegan is going to make you lose weight, would you? Because what if the person eats a lot of vegan cookies, crisps and junk food and then doesn’t lose weight – how will you explain that? Especially now, when the industry is producing so many tasty, but calorie-dense and unhealthy vegan foods, the argument that only animal foods make you obese is becoming weaker by the day.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
5 months ago

Hi Holger. A slight correction for the above. I think you meant “satiating” not “saturating”

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

Excellent remark, thank you. I corrected it.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

You know what else is satiating? Potatoes. And thanks for your attention Rowland.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Well the only dietary group within a normal BMI range are vegans.

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Prevalence-of-diabetes-across-diets-A-survey-of-100-000-members-of-the-Seventh-Day_fig3_260118848

But I take your point on the growth of unhealthy vegan options. You are quite correct there. Impossible burgers for example contain heme iron. A substance causally linked to the initiation of cancer.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23983135/#:~:text=Pheterogeneity%20%3D%200.12).-,Heme%20iron%20intake%20was%20associated%20with%20an%20increased%20risk%20of,in%20heme%2Dinduced%20colorectal%20carcinogenesis.

The optimal diet is not a vegan diet. The optimal diet is a whole foods plant based diet, that happens to be a vegan diet. Remember weight lost is not the be all and end all as a marker of health. A better standard is inflammation level. The reason obesity is bad for health is that it causes chronic inflammation. If a person on a low carb type diet is loosing weight while consuming inflamitory foods but their background inflammation remains the same it would be incorrect to call that person healthier.

Regarding your point on lean meat, do you believe people that eat meat usually eat lean meat most of the time? That would be a minority, so conducting a population study it’s still inaccurate to screen out BMI entirely. As I said it needs to remain at the level that is directly caused by meat consumption. If you were testing if ice-cream caused cancer for example, you would need to leave in the weight caused by eating ice-cream otherwise you are “cooking the books”, so to speak.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Well the only dietary group within a normal BMI range are vegans.

See: “Average BMI across diets. A survey of ~100,000 members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in North America”

But I take your point on the growth of unhealthy vegan options. You are quite correct there. Impossible burgers for example contain heme iron. A substance causally linked to the initiation of cancer.

Article: “Dietary heme iron and the risk of colorectal cancer with specific mutations in KRAS and APC”

The optimal diet is not a vegan diet. The optimal diet is a whole foods plant based diet, that happens to be a vegan diet. Remember weight lost is not the be all and end all as a marker of health. A better standard is inflammation level. The reason obesity is bad for health is that it causes chronic inflammation. If a person on a low carb type diet is loosing weight while consuming inflamitory foods but their background inflammation remains the same it would be incorrect to call that person healthier.

Regarding your point on lean meat, do you believe people that eat meat usually eat lean meat most of the time? That would be a minority, so conducting a population study it’s still inaccurate to screen out BMI entirely. As I said it needs to remain at the level that is directly caused by meat consumption. If you were testing if ice-cream caused cancer for example, you would need to leave in the weight caused by eating ice-cream otherwise you are “cooking the books”, so to speak.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

You can’t really claim that only Seventh Day Adventists have healthy BMIs. There are many people with healthy BMIs and Western diets, there are just fewer of them. And Seventh Day Adventists have a whole lot of other habits besides diet that help with the BMI.

The article about heme is interesting, but still lacks context. I am looking forward to more results in the future. Heme has been suggested to be involved in causing cancer, which may be counteracted by losing blood, e.g. via donations.

What constitutes an “optimal” diet is disputable. A vegan diet lacks certain nutrients from animal foods, in order of importance: vitamin B12, omega 3 fatty acids, carnitine, creatine, carnosine, taurine. Is it truly an optimal diet if it must be enhanced with supplements? It’s possible – I don’t know.

Inflammation level is vastly tied to obesity. If a person loses weight their inflammation levels will go down, period. Doesn’t matter what they eat. It’s questionable whether meat would be an “inflammatory food” on a healthy weight and overall healthy diet. Again, you cannot overemphasize the importance of BMI. It is a deciding factor.

And again, I will repeat myself. If you want to know whether ice cream AS SUCH causes cancer, you HAVE to remove the BMI from the equation. The reason is that practically any food can cause a high BMI when eaten in large amounts. Since practically any food can make you obese, and obesity can increase your chance for cancer, then ANY FOOD would be carcinogenic. This is of course nonsense. As a result, saying that ice cream can cause cancer via increasing your BMI is a completely pointless statement, because so could vegetable oil, animal fat, chocolate, baked beans or a snickers. Carcinogenicity and effect on body weight are two different things that need to be looked at in their own separate ways. By mixing both you are just making it harder to see the real effects.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Just going to touch on 2 points you made there.

1) Vegan diets lack nutrients? The only essential nutrient that is lacking in a vegan diet is B12. The reason being that we live in an artificially sanitized environment. Every other nutrient you mentioned is either not essential or can easily be obtained from a vegan diet (remember vegans eat mushrooms). ALA is converted to DHA. Also DHA is abundant in seaweed. Carnatine is not an essential nutrient as we can synthesise it ourselves and also consuming it may be unhealthy.

2) Reductionist science has limited utility in trying to understand something as complex as nutrition. But when looking at a food. We must take into account the full effect of that food. It’s caloric content is absolutely something which must be considered. People are not pitre dishes.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

1) The conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is comparably inefficient. It’s questionable whether a vegan diet really provides ample amounts of these fatty acids, though there likely won’t be a flat-out deficiency. Luckily, algae-based preparations exist (and are, like B12, also often recommended to people on omnivore diets). I agree there won’t be a deficiency of carnitine, carnosine or taurine. Yet carnitine has been used with success in the sports field to increase muscle gain, which suggests that ingesting it may have an important role in physiology.

2) It’s not reductionist science if you are parsing out the BMI when checking for the carcinogenicity of a food, it’s just normal science. If you say that meat causes cancer because it can increase the BMI, that’s not science – that’s journalism. The distinction is very important. The classification of red meat as a carcinogen by the WHO, for example, has absolutely nothing to do with the BMI. You can discuss this with me however long you want, but the fact is: the effect of a food on the BMI is not part of its carcinogenicity in ANY scientific area. Yes, it matters in practice and yes, it should be mentioned and discussed. But obesity and cancer are two entirely different matters.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

When you see rapid increases in growth due to certain nutrients, search for growing cancers in the body.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

I think you missed the point about the study in question. It isn’t about Seventh Day Adventists per se. It just happens that the Seventh Day Adventist population is a excellent one to study because they represent a broad range of dietary types. The point is in the Seventh Day Adventist population, it was only the vegans in that group which fell into the normal range for BMI. Suggesting that vegan diets actually do have benefits regarding BMI. We can assume that this is due to the lower relative caloric density of a vegan diet.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I don’t know why you would even discuss that. There is no question that a vegan diet has advantages for the BMI, because there are simply fewer unhealthy vegan foods available, and the fiber is satiating. Plus, anybody who has to take care of their diet will usually not eat just about anything. Most people don’t even read the ingredients of the processed foods they buy. A vegan HAS to do that.

But people also lose weight on low-carb, high protein diets, because protein is satiating and most unhealthy foods contain significant amounts of carbohydrates – and they can’t eat those on a low carb diet. Plus, now they also have to read ingredient lists. As a result, they ingest fewer calories. A high BMI has nothing to do with the meat itself. In fact, meat has a satiating effect that helps with reducing calorie intake.

On both diets people lose weight. The industry is working against it by producing unhealthy low carb foods and unhealthy vegan foods, i.e. calorically dense, non-satiating foods. High BMI is a result of selecting such calorically dense, non-satiating foods. Meat is NOT calorically dense, and meat is satiating! But animal fats are calorically dense, plant oils are, fries that you eat with hamburgers are, bacon is (due to frying it in plant oil), oreo cookies are (due to a high content of palm oil).

Unhealthy, high-calorie, non-satiating foods are usually high in simple carbohydrates and fats. Meat has N O T H I N G to do with it. Meat just comes with the package. Protein has 4 kcal per gram. That’s the same as carbohydrates. But protein is more satiating and has a thermic effect that effectively reduces the calories to below 4 kcal per gram. Read “Long-term effects of a high-protein weight-loss diet” or any other one of the hundreds of papers out there that explain this.

I will repeat it once again: meat does not increase the BMI. The standard Western diet increases the BMI. The standard Western diet also happens to contain a lot of meat. But most importantly, it consist of many simple carbohydrates and fats (both animal and plant-based).

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

You are talking about lean meat. Let’s clarify that. Protein and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram. Fat is 9. Meat contains fat it isn’t pure protein.

You keep mentioning satiation. Because low carb diets require coloric restriction don’t they? WFPB diets however work by filling a person’s stomach with whole plants, containing mostly carbohydrates and fiber. People loose weight on those without needing to calorie restrict.

Your enthusiasm for low carbohydrate diets seems to reflect a lack of understanding about their dangers.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Most meat cuts are lean. If they do contain fat, it’s usually not much. One of the very few exception is pork belly (bacon). I think it’s clear that bacon won’t do much to help you to lose weight.

You cannot lose weight without caloric restriction. It’s impossible. Weight is a matter of energy in vs. energy out. The body can’t just make stored fat disappear, it has to burn that fat. Similarly, the body can’t make ingested carbohydrates disappear, it has to burn them or store them.

A vegan diet does not magically make you lose weight. It restricts your calorie intake by causing greater satiety. Which is the exact same mechanism by which a high protein diet works.

There may be dangers to a low carbohydrate diet, but if it helps people lose weight, it will have an overall positive effect. A low carb diet does not have to be followed forever, but it is a handy tool for weight loss.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Low carb is a dangerous fad.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Oh so we’re back to statements now that you have no more arguments?

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Am I wrong?

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Yes. Low carb is neither a fad, nor is it dangerous. It’s actually used for the therapy of several conditions such as epilepsy, where unfortunately, even a vegan diet doesn’t help.

There is a case to be made that it may be less healthy than a wholesome vegan diet in the long term. But it’s definitely healthier than the Standard Western Diet in the short, medium, and probably even long term, because it helps people keep a healthy weight. Yes, a whole-food plant-based diet is probably better, but that doesn’t mean a low carb diet is dangerous.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Yeah it was used 100 years ago to treat severe epilepsy. But the weight loss fad is dangerous. Ketosis is a survival mechanism, not an optimal diet.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

It is still used for that. It’s a therapeutic diet. You can deny that but that doesn’t change the fact.

Ketosis is a metabolic state, just like burning carbohydrates is. Both are survival mechanisms.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Our natural diet is one of carbohydrates. Ketosis is how we survive famine. If you don’t understand that I guess you are from the Joe Rogen school of nutritional knowledge.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Our natural diet is actually low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, meat and organs. The only mentionable source of carbohydrates in a hunter-gatherer scenario, which human beings evolved in, are tubers. Fruit is only high in carbohydrates because it was groomed to be over thousands of years. I am now going to stop replying because your messages make less and less sense. You just make random claims that are completely wrong and have no basis in reality.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
4 months ago

Very accurate and sensible reply

Matt
Matt
4 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

About as sensible and accurate as using the Carnivore diet to treat IBS. Or eating a mostly meat diet to treat ankylosing spondylitis when it is recommended that saturated fat from animal sources should be minimized or eliminated for this condition.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Stick to subjects you understand. You’r looking at a lifetimes experience with AS

Matt
Matt
4 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

But you don’t eat a mostly meat based diet. You eat a mostly whole plants one.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Animal foods are CRUCIAL!

Matt
Matt
4 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

You sincerely believe that don’t you? That’s why you are on your little Crusade here. But the facts clearly show that simply isn’t true. The American Dietetic Association: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

The optimal diet consists of primarily carbohydrates. You seem to suffer under the orthodoxy that has been shown to be selection bias. See “No sustained increase in zooarchaeological evidence for carnivory after the appearance of Homo erectus”. See also “The evolution and ecology of the African hominid oral microbiome” which demonstrates the dominant role starch played in our diet. See: “Grass on ash: uncovering 200,000 year old breads from South Africa”.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

No evidence of starch as a staple outside of agriculture.

Matt
Matt
4 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

I just refed to just that Rowland. Regarding the African hominid oral microbiome. Just because starch doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean that it isn’t healthy for most people nor does it mean that it wasn’t key in human evolution.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

I brought up the generally low BMI of vegans because you said this: “You wouldn’t claim that becoming vegan is going to make you lose weight, would you?” Now you are saying “I don’t know why you would discus that. There is no question that a vegan diet has advantages for the BMI, because there are simply fewer unhealthy vegan foods available, and the fiber is satiating.”, well that’s why. You are being a little inconsistent here.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

How am I being inconsistent? It’s not the case that a vegan diet automatically makes you lose weight. And the fact that there is some population group where only the vegan subgroup has mostly healthy BMIs is not proof for anything really. It may be a hint that a vegan diet makes it easier to keep a healthy BMI, which I believe is true, simply because – like I said – most unhealthy foods are not vegan. And fiber is satiating. But again, that does not mean that becoming a vegan will necessarily make you lose weight. There are still many vegan foods which are high in calories and low in fiber.

Obviously if you compare somebody on the Standard Western Diet and somebody on a vegan diet, there is a high chance that the person on the vegan diet is more health-conscious, and chooses their foods with more care. While the person on the Standard Western Diet just eats “what they feel like”. So you have a kind of bias when comparing the two groups.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Vegan diets aren’t necessary healthy. But whole foods plant based diets are.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Even a whole foods plant based diet can be unhealthy, but I agree, it’s much harder to make that one unhealthy than it is to make other diets unhealthy.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Any food which contributes to obesity can be said to promote cancer rates because obesity itself causes inflammation. Chronic inflammation is something that drives cancer growth. So high calorie foods eaten in abundance are indeed carsinogens.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

No, they are not. That’s not the definition of a carcinogen. High-calorie foods eaten in moderation do not promote a high BMI. Therefore, high-calorie foods eaten in moderation, according to your logic, would NOT be carcinogens.

Do you know what happens when I eat a bucket full of apples every day? My BMI will increase, and therefore also my cancer risk. So apples are carcinogens, right???

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

I understand you are jesting. A bucket of apples a day would not make you obese. Because they are not calorically dense. You need to consider food in it’s entirety. You need to ask: What is to overall effect of consuming this or that food. Ultimately people eat foods not chemicals. If you looked at the net effect of apples and found they were inflammatory you could indeed call them carcinogenic. But it’s quite well understood how anti-inflammatory apples in fact are.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

At the end of the day, obesity is about calories, and nothing else. If I eat too many calories in the form of apples, I will become obese, just like if I eat too many calories of ice cream. Plus, apples aren’t some magical super-healthy plant foods; they were manipulated over hundreds of years to contain as much sugar as possible. If you look at the history of apples, the original ones were very small and very bitter. But my point was that you can’t just call a food carcinogenic just because it contains more calories than average. That completely destroys the idea of a carcinogen, because then most foods would be carcinogenic, including whole grains, nuts and so on.

Your “net effect” of inflammatory-ness is an entirely made-up concept. There is no single food that is inflammatory or non-inflammatory, and there is no way to grade the degrees. It always depends on context. Inflammation is a natural process in the body that is independent of food: it may be made worse by food, but never caused by it. Unless we are talking about allergies. But that’s an entirely different topic.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

All concepts are made up. That’s what a concept is. There is such a thing as a dietary inflamitory index (DII). Here they grade food groups by their inflamitory effect. Take a look at: “Dietary Inflammatory Index Is Associated With Inflammation in Japanese Men”.

Well look at that? “The findings suggest that a higher E-DII score was associated with a higher intake of sugar, meat, and confectioneries in men”. In other words these foods types clearly cause inflammation. And are therefore unhealthy.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

The study literally reads: DII was associated with inflammation status in Japanese men, but the association was limited in Japanese women.

Why was the association limited in the women? If foods are inflammatory, period, then there would have to be a perfect association. Yet there isn’t. Because, like I said, it depends on context. No single food is inflammatory, but they may make inflammation worse under certain circumstances. Which is what the study means by “association”. Association is NOT causation!!

And the same goes for vegan foods. Look at nuts, for example, or sunflower seeds. They contain a high amount of fat, which can cause obesity, and they contain omega-6-fatty-acids, which are involved in the inflammatory pathway. So are nuts inflammatory carcinogens? According to my definition, no. Because when they are eaten in moderation, they do not cause obesity. And when they are paired with omega-3-fatty-acids, their omega-6-content is no problem.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

If a person had severe cardiovascular disease they shouldn’t eat nuts.

I’ll tell you a strong correlation that I have observed. There seems to be a very strong correlation between people whom love meat and that distrust epidemiology. Why do you think that is Holger?

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Have never heard that about the nuts, in fact, nuts are very much cardioprotective. I’m honestly wondering where you get your ideas from.

Quote:
Nuts and cardiovascular disease
Edward Bitok, Joan Sabaté

“The primary mechanism by which nuts protect against CVD is through the improvement of lipid and apolipoprotein profile. Increasing evidence also indicates that nut consumption may confer protection against CVD via lowering of oxidative stress, inflammation, and improvement in endothelial function. Nut components, such as unsaturated fatty acids, l-arginine, beneficial minerals, phenolic compounds and phytosterols, appear to be of paramount importance for their health effects.”

It’s easy to test nuts because you can just give people nuts and tell them to eat a defined amount every day. Then you measure their blood lipids and compare to before. Usually there will be an improvement in their lipid values. But ONLY if they eat moderate amounts of nuts. Very high amounts of nuts are unhealthy due to their high calorie density.

I have no idea what epidemiology or any correlations you may or may not have observed have to do with the topic.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

The gold standard diet is the one used by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. To reverse cardiovascular disease. That’s where I’m getting my ideas.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

You shouldn’t just listen to a single person with an agenda. I just checked his reasoning and he states nuts should be avoided due to saturated fats. First of all, most nuts are low or even very low in saturated fats. Secondly, saturated fats don’t raise bad cholesterol – a broken sugar metabolism does. There is even a study that shows that cashews (which do contain saturates) LOWER cholesterol. Better double-check everything you hear in the future.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Different kinds of saturated fats act in different ways. Saturated fats do indeed increase lipoproteins. The recommendation to avoid nuts is only for those with severe cardiovascular disease. What is a “broken sugar metabolism”? I must say you aren’t even trying to hide your low-carber bias at this point.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Nuts reduce cholesterol. It’s been documented in countless studies. Doesn’t matter if they contain saturates or not, if eating them reduces cholesterol, there is no reason to avoid them. Since they lower cholesterol, they’re beneficial for anything cardiovascular. Esselstyn is simply wrong. Sometimes people are wrong. It can happen.

I do not have a low carb bias because I am not on a low carb diet and personally don’t particularly enjoy the diet. I find it too restrictive. But I know that it has been used with much success for weight loss by many people. Just like the vegan diet. I actually like the vegan diet and I have followed it for quite some time. See, this is the difference between you and me. I’m a scientist, so I look at everything with an objective view. Contrary to you. You’re just a fervent cultist who will only look at what confirms your cult. Thus, you will never learn anything new and your opinion will forever be worthless. You will never understand nutrition and health, instead you only know how to spread your plant-based religion. Good luck with that.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Meat is not generally a calorically dense food. Lean meat is, in fact, calorically not dense at all, and is very saturating to boot. Protein contains 4 kcal per gram, muscle meat is usually 20% protein and 80% water, so 100 g of lean meat contains 20 g of protein and thus, only 80 kcal. Only meat with large fatty cuts is calorically dense, but again, is also quite saturating. It’s usually not the meat itself, it’s the package the meat comes with that causes the obesity, i.e. lots of oils or pure animal fats, simple carbohydrates and flavor enhancers.

There are many people who lose a lot of weight on vegan diets, but many people also lose weight on low carb or paleo diets that consist of meat and vegetables. Therefore, to evaluate the effect of meat as a food itself on health, you have to eliminate the BMI as a confounding factor. Just because most people combine meat with other unhealthy foods that raise their BMI, does not mean that meat itself raises the BMI. Anybody who claims anything else is just trying to sell a story rather than facts.

You wouldn’t claim that becoming vegan is going to make you lose weight, would you? Because what if the person eats a lot of vegan cookies, crisps and junk food and then doesn’t lose weight – how will you explain that? Especially now, when the industry is producing so many tasty, but calorie-dense and unhealthy vegan foods, the argument that the meat makes you obese is becoming weaker by the day.

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

Tell me, why is it that low-carbers are they only ones whom still believe meat is healthy?

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I do not believe that is the case.

Samson
Samson
5 months ago

Really? When WHO’s IARC has made an official entry on their carcinogen list for red and processed meat?

Group 1 – Carcinogenic
Group 2A – Probably carcinogenic
Group 2B – Possibly carcinogenic
Group 3 – Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans

Processes meat – Group 1
Red meat – Group 2A
Tobacco smoke, second hand & smokeless – Group 1
Plutonium – Group 1
Night shift work – Group 2A

Here are some commonly relatable examples directly from their lists.
As you would see from similar groups, processed meats are a definite carcinogen.
Now red meat has very red flags, anyone who had worked night shifts would be able to see the reasons why.

You disrupt your circadian rhythm, all your hormones and enzymes get out of whack, you don’t digest food when you’re supposed to, you are not able to sustain a full sleep cycle.
All these habits/lifestyles are heavily linked to cancer.

And when red meat is put into the same group, if it was me, I’d stay far away from it.
From both actually, red meat and night shifts, no matter how good the pay is.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Samson

Well first of all, the evidence level and impact between processed red meat and tobacco smoke is nowhere near equal, even though they are both in the same group. The comparison with plutonium is actually ridiculous, and clearly proves that their classifications do not reflect reality.

Secondly, with meat consumption the overall context of nutrition matters a lot. What are the total calories, what are the other foods consumed? Is it stuff that destroys the gut wall and damages the gut flora? Usually yes – because sausages are more likely to be part of an unhealthy diet than a healthy one. So all we have are really observations – and the question is whether we can even do the statistics well enough to really isolate the processed red meat. How many people do we have who regularly eat processed red meat within a healthy diet? Just some of the low carb, paleo people… and those are too new to give us any relevant data.

Interestingly, red meat isn’t even in the same category – a very indirect association at best, which neatly ties into my comment above. They’re basically just guessing at this point.

What the WHO puts in which classification matters very little in the end. Though I would agree that avoiding processed red meat as much as possible could be the smart choice in the long run. Usually it isn’t exactly the most nutritious of foods anyway.

Samson
Samson
5 months ago

I cant verify the evidence between both, or all the items and compare them between each other within each group. But yeah I agree, if there are any chances or correlations, I’d prefer to stay away from all of them. Essentially it boils down to personal preferences. And when I make mine, I’d prefer to be considerate towards the preferences of the things I eat as well. If they did not want to die, I don’t wanna kill them, or pay for them to be killed. Of course you could apply the same moral to plants, nothing wants to die. Then you have to bring in necessity. And now you have a clear winner. I can survive on plants alone. I will not survive on meat, dairy and eggs alone. The later group isn’t a necessity.

Holger Lundstrom
Holger Lundstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  Samson

I understand that attitude, and believe it is a very good one. You are absolutely correct with the necessity factor.

Samson
Samson
5 months ago

Thanks Holger, that was a good talk 🙂 You’re a very reasonable person.

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