Being an ‘unhealthy’ vegan can INCREASE the risk of breast cancer in women by 20%, warns study
- French researchers tracked the eating habits of 65,000 postmenopausal women
- Those who adhered to a ‘healthy’ plant-based diet had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer
- But having an ‘unhealthy’ – including desserts – had a 20% higher risk
Being vegan can increase your risk of cancer – if you are unhealthy about it, a study warns.
Academics found that women on an unhealthy plant-based diet were up to one-fifth more likely to develop breast cancer compared to those who ate healthier foods.
This included regular intake of things such as chips, sodas and white rice.
But those who stuck to a healthy vegan diet, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains and vegetable oils, faced a 14 percent lower risk.
Experts said the results prove that not all plant-based diets are created equal when it comes to their health benefits.
The project followed 65,000 women in France for two decades and asked them to complete two diet questionnaires during the course of the research.
Eating a lot of sugar or simple carbohydrates can cause increases in blood sugar, which have previously been linked to cancer.
And consuming too many of the aforementioned unhealthy plant-based foods is a known cause of obesity, which can drastically increase the risk of other cancers.
Being vegan can increase your risk of cancer – if you are unhealthy about it, a study warns
Researchers at Paris-Saclay University presented the results as an abstract at the Nutrition 2022 Live Online conference. The full method has not yet been announced.
They provided questionnaires to 65,574 postmenopausal women, who were on average in their 50s, and tracked their cancer diagnosis.
Diets were classified as ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ plant-based diets or healthy or unhealthy animal-based, based on their intake of 18 food groups.
This was used to rank the volunteers in five different groups, based on how close they stuck to each eating pattern.
Sanam Shah, study author, said: ‘What is different about our study is that we were able to stand out from the effects of the quality of plant foods, which has not been the focus of previous studies of other dietary patterns.
‘By scoring healthy, unhealthy and animal-based foods, we analyzed comprehensive food intake by considering the “health” of food groups.’
During the 21 years, 3,968 were diagnosed with the disease.
Researchers compared rates among those who followed the different diets to calculate their risk.
People who followed the healthiest plant-based diet had a 14 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who went the other way.
Meanwhile, the opposite was the case for those who followed an unhealthy plant-based diet.
Shad said: “These results highlight that increased consumption of healthy plant foods and reduced consumption of less healthy plant foods and animal foods can help prevent all forms of breast cancer.”
He said plant-based diets did not necessarily mean vegetarian or vegan exactly, but greater emphasis on eating vegetable and other non-animal foods.
Vegan and vegetarian diets have in the past been associated with not having enough important nutrients to keep people healthy.
What are the disadvantages of becoming a vegan?
Switching to a completely plant-based diet can leave you tired or break out in acne dietitians have warned.
If you do not eat or drink animal products, you may be missing out on important vitamins like B12 as well as proteins.
Deficiency of vitamin B12, which is found in found milk and eggs, can lead to fatigue or tiredness and adversely affect your mental health.
Vitamin D is another nutrient found mainly in animal products, such as fatty fish, which those on the vegan diet may lack.
A vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone development problems and cause pain.
Not getting enough protein that we get from dairy products, fish, eggs and meat can inhibit the growth of children and also lead to acne breakouts.
Lack of iron, which is found in red meat and liver, can lead to anemia, which makes people feel tired and have palpitations.
Iodine, found mainly in seafood, is another nutrient that is known to be deficient in vegan diets and is important for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Plant-based diets may include all of these mentioned nutrients, but people need to carefully control what they eat or take supplements to make sure they are getting enough.
This is especially true if people switch to a vegan diet after primarily getting these nutrients from animal products.
But another risk is the false notion that vegan products are inherently healthier than non-vegan options.
A MailOnline analysis of meat-free vegan alternative foods found that a significant number contained more salt, sugar and fat than the product they were to replace.