Vegan diet may cut risk of prostate cancer

Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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LONDON, Jun 12 (Reuters) - Men who eat a vegan diet have lower levels of IGF-I, a protein associated with prostate cancer, UK scientists announced last Thursday.

Researchers from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in Oxford said that while further investigation was needed, their findings suggested that a diet without meat or dairy products could reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The results of earlier studies have suggested that high levels of the insulin-like growth factor IGF-I could play a key role in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer.

The researchers found that IGF-I levels were 9% lower in vegans than in meat-eaters, and 7% lower than in vegetarians. Meat-eaters were defined as men who ate meat on most days of the week. The Oxford study of 696 British men was published in this week's British Journal of Cancer.

The study investigators also pointed out that previous research has indicated that prostate cancer rates are generally lower in countries with low consumption of meat and dairy products.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in British men. Each year, the disease kills about 9,500 men, and about 21,000 new cases are diagnosed.