LIFESTYLE
11/03/2015 14:22 GMT | Updated 11/03/2015 14:59 GMT

Pescetarian Diet May Lower Your Risk Of Bowel Cancer, New Study Finds

Eating a pescetarian diet may lower your risk of bowel cancer according to a new study.

People who ate fish and vegetables - but no meat - were 43% less likely to develop colon or rectal cancer, according to research from Loma Linda University in California.

The researchers examined the diets of more than 77,000 people over the course of seven years. They also found that vegetarians had a 20% lower risk, and for vegans the risk was reduced by 16%.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, after breast, lung and prostate cancer. Around 41,600 people are diagnosed with disease each year, with a slightly higher rate in men.

In the last year alone it has claimed the lives of Simpson's co-creator Sam Simon, Loose Women presenter Lynda Bellingham and Stephen Sutton, the teenager who raised £4.5 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

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The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which funded the study, currently advises that garlic, diets high in fibre, high-calcium diets and increased physical activity are associated with a decreased risk of bowel cancer.

The WCRF guidelines were drawn up in 2011 at which point they concluded that the evidence on the relationship between fish and bowel cancer risk was limited and inconclusive.

They will no doubt take this latest study into account when they next update their guidelines, but it's worth keeping in mind that at the moment fish is not among their recommendations, especially as NHS Choices have pointed out some limitations of the Loma Linda study.

The subjects of the study all came from one very specific population group - North American Seventh Day Adventists, and the researchers relied on very loose definitions of vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians - which included people who ate meat less than once a month.

"This study will contribute to the body of evidence on dietary risk associated with different food types," states the NHS Choices' report. "But on its own it does not prove that fish consumption decreases the risk of bowel cancer."

However, the healthy credentials of fish are without doubt, and according to Public Health England average consumption of oily fish in the UK is well below the recommended one portion (140g) per week . So it is still a wise move to befriend your local fishmonger.

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