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The Cancer Risk in Vegetarians Consortium conducts pooled analyses of the relationships between vegetarian diets and risk of a range of cancers.

vegetarian food - fruit, vegetables and pulses

Diets rich in plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, have been associated with lower cancer risk, while red and processed meat intakes increase colorectal cancer risk and may increase risk of other cancer sites.

Vegetarians (who exclude all meat and fish) and vegans (who further exclude dairy products and eggs) consume a higher amount of plant foods compared to people who eat meat.

We would expect that because vegetarians and vegans do not eat meat and have a higher intake of plant foods, they may have a lower cancer risk.

While some studies have observed that those who follow a vegetarian diet have a lower risk of developing cancer as a whole, no individual study has been able to show with enough precision that vegetarians have a lower risk of developing cancer of specific sites (e.g. colorectal cancer, breast cancer or prostate cancer). We propose that all relevant studies worldwide need to be put together to be able to answer this important question. 

We are combining data from prospective studies worldwide with large proportions of vegetarians, and to date, a total of 9 prospective studies collaborate in this pooling project.

The consortium was established by Associate Professor Aurora Perez-Cornago. Our work on vegetarian diets and risk of individual cancer sites is funded by the World Cancer Research Fund.

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