Animal Aid

LOOK AFTER YOUR HEALTH - Go veggie!

Though some people still like to mock vegetarians and the vegetarian diet there is now a huge and growing body of evidence to show that a balanced, flesh- and dairy-free diet is as healthy as it gets. As part of our Veggie Month Campaign, we present the following extracts from articles about meat and dairy products and their association with human diseases.

The Oxford Study (1994)

This compared the health of 6,000 vegetarians with 5,000 meat-eaters over a 12 year period. The two groups were matched to exclude or allow for the effect of other 'lifestyle' factors - such as smoking and general fitness.The Study showed that deaths from cancers were 39% higher amongst meat-eaters and mortality from heart disease 28% higher.

(Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. M Thorogood et al BMJ vol 308, 25.6.94.)

Veggie is best

'I think in the next 10 to 20 years we'll have evidence [that vegetarianism is the healthiest diet] that is as strong as, let's say, the evidence that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. In my view it's pretty strong enough now to make sensible decisions.'

(Dr T Campbell, former administrator, USA Department of Human Nutrition.)

Food poisoning

'The current state of food safety in the UK is such that all raw meat should be assumed to be contaminated with pathogenic organisms. These range from campylobacter to salmonella to E.coli 0157.'

(British Medical Association, 12.1.98.)

Breast and bowel cancer

Up to 80% of all breast cancers and bowel cancers could be prevented if people improved their eating habits... The British way of nourishment, with its emphasis on meat, processed food like sausages and dearth of fruit and vegetables is causing the nation major health problems.'

(The Guardian, 11.12.98, reporting on a new BMJ-published study by John Cummings et al of Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Cambridge University.)

Prostate cancer

British researchers have produced more evidence to show that a diet free of meat and dairy products may lower a man's risk for developing prostate cancer. The Oxford study of 696 men found that IGF-I levels were 9% lower in vegan men than in meat-eating men. IGF-I, insulin-like growth factor, is believed to play a key role in causing prostate cancer. The study also mentions previous population studies showing that countries with low consumption of animal products had lower rates of the disease.

(Allen NE, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Hormones and diet: low insulin-like growth factor-I but normal bioavailable androgens in vegan men. Br J Cancer 2000;83:95-7.)

Clogged arteries form early in life

Autopsies performed on men aged 30 to 34 who died in accidents revealed that 20 percent of them had arteries with advanced plaques, the kind that can cause heart attack or stroke. Researchers looked at 760 coronary arteries and found advanced plaques in men as young as 15 and in women aged 30 to 34.

'We need to make sure our children are eating healthy foods, exercising, and not smoking,' says Dr. Arthur Zeike, who worked on the study. People who were obese or who had high cholesterol were 2.5 times more likely to have advanced plaques. A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, beans, and fruits is free of artery-clogging cholesterol and low in saturated fat.

(McGill HC Jr, McMahan CA, Zieske AW, et al. Association of coronary heart disease risk factors with microscopic qualities of coronary atherosclerosis in youth. Circulation 2000;102:374-9.)

Dairy and Crohn's disease

Johne's disease is a condition affecting dairy cows and - evidence suggests - some human consumers of milk. It is caused by a bacterium that interferes with digestion, lowers milk production, and eventually kills infected cows. Research has now linked the disease to the human intestinal disorder Crohn's disease, a type of inflammation in the digestive tract. It often affects young people, causing fever, diarrhoea, and pain after eating, sometimes leading to serious complications. In addition to genetic factors and bacterial infections, Crohn's disease is affected by diet. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org) has reported that 'many people with the illness have little fiber-specifically vegetables and fruits-and too much sugar in their diet. Boosting plant foods, including whole grain bread and brown rice, while avoiding sugar, white flour, and white rice has reduced patient hospitalisations in research studies.'

GM in animal feed

More than 50 per cent of genetically modified crop material grown around the world goes into animal feed. It is no accident that the crops that have gone into commercial production first - soya, maize, oilseed rape and cotton - are all key ingredients in animal feed. As consumers around the world mobilise against GM products in their own food, few people realise that eating meat and dairy products is throwing a lifeline to the biotechnology industry. While most UK vegetarians rely heavily upon soya in their diet and need to take care to avoid GM crops, meat eaters have an almost impossible task. This is because soyabean oil and meal are common ingredients in compound animal feeds and may well include GM products. There is a danger that the alien DNA inserted into the soya may be taken up by the animal in its feed and eventually get into the human consumer as well.

No future for meat

'Meat, it seems, is not just food but reward as well. But in the coming century, that will change. Much as we have awakened to the full economic and social costs of cigarettes, we will find we can no longer subsidise or ignore the costs of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and fish to feed our growing population. These costs include largely inefficient use of freshwater land, heavy pollution from livestock faeces, rising rates of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses, and spreading destruction of the forests on which much of our planet's life depends.'

(Ed Ayres, editorial director of the Worldwatch Institute, Time magazine, 9.11.99.)

See also Animal diseases and modern farming practices.

Go veggie - it's easier than you think.

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