Cancer risk? Be a vegetarian

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vegetablesBEIJING, Dec.14 (Xinhuanet) -- Want to be healthier? Be vegetarian, giving up delicious roast meat.

Researchers studying a group of vegetarians who'd maintained a diet relatively low in protein and calories found that they had lower blood levels of several hormones and other substances that have been tied to certain cancers.

"I believe our findings suggest that protein intake may be very important in regulating cancer risk," lead study author Dr. Luigi Fontana of Washington University in St. Louis said on Wednesday.

He and his colleagues report their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The findings are based on a small sample of middle-aged adults, including 21 who'd been vegetarians for at least two years and were recruited through a local vegetarian society and a magazine on "raw" foods.

They were compared with 21 long-time endurance runners of the same age, and 21 sedentary adults who ate a typical American diet -- relatively high in protein from meat and dairy.

A comparison group of distance runners also had lower levels of most of these substances compared with sedentary adults. 

However, the low-protein group also had a potential advantage over the runners: lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a body protein that helps cells grow and multiply. High IGF-1 levels in the blood have been linked to breast, prostate and colon cancers.

It's not clear that this all translates into lower odds of developing cancer, but the findings are a "first step" in showing how lower-protein diets might alter cancer risk, according to the researchers.

source Xinhua 

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