Vegetarians and Heart, Cancer Risk
Health-conscious people are cutting back on meat more and more, but a new study suggests that eliminating meat completely could have severe long-term consequences.
A vegetarian diet may actually change human DNA and bring about genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Researchers from Cornell University compared hundreds of genomes from a primarily vegetarian population in Pune, India to traditional meat-eating people in Kansas and found there was a significant genetic difference.
Populations who have a mainly vegetarian diet for generations were found to be more likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation. Scientists believe that this mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants. Generations of vegetarians are more likely to carry genetics that more rapidly metabolize plant fatty acids.
This situation increases the risk for the chronic inflammation that’s implicated in the development of heart disease, and exacerbates cancer. Even worse, the mutation hinders the production of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acid which is protective against heart disease.
But we end on at least one good note – there is different research suggesting that vegetarianism actually lowers the risk of diabetes, stroke and obesity. So, of course, we’re always free to believe the study we choose to believe.