Scientific Research Shows Vegetarians at Risk

Published: 05th January 2010
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Over 5% of the world's population is vegetarian; this is a trend that is growing for reasons of health, cultural beliefs, and other lifestyle factors. Yet there is increasing evidence from research showing that vegetarians are less healthy than non-vegetarians from the same socio-economic background. Why is this so? Surely a diet high in fruit and vegetables should be healthier, not less healthy, so what is going on?

In the light of extraordinary new research it is becoming apparent that most vegetarians are in fact less healthy than their non-vegetarian peers. By "peers" I mean people of a similar socio-economic and cultural background. Any valid comparison between vegetarians and non-vegetarians must compare apples with apples. For example, any study that compared an affluent health-conscious vegetarian from California with an impoverished meat eater from the slums of Calcutta is not likely to be meaningful.

Recent studies are clearly showing that compared to their non-vegetarians peers, vegetarians are more at risk of diseases such as infertility, cancer, heart disease, eating disorders, mental disease, and obesity.

Scientific studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals have compared health-conscious vegetarians and non-vegetarians from the same demographic (the same socio-economic and health-conscious cohort). In other words, scientists have compared non-vegetarians and vegetarians from similar backgrounds so as to produce valid data and they have come up with some surprising results.

In a large study data from five studies were pooled into a very large collaborative analysis of mortality rates in vegetarians and non-vegetarians (Appleby PN, Key TJ, Thorogood M, Burr ML, Mann J. Mortality in British vegetarians. Public Health Nutr. 2002 Feb; 5 (1):29-36). This study looked at 76,000 people, conducted over many years.

The Appleby Study compared vegetarians and non-vegetarians, adjusted for age, sex and smoking. The results for all-cause mortality showed no significant difference between vegetarians and their non-vegetarian peers. Many studies have shown that vegetarians live longer than the population at large, but the Appleby Study showed that this is not the case when you compare people within the same demographic. The study concluded that 'Overall mortality was the same between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. But vegetarians had 2.2 times the death rate from mental and neurological diseases as non-vegetarians.'

Several studies have compared vegetarians and non-vegetarians within the same demographic and the research is clearly showing that vegetarians are at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, infertility and other diseases. As most studies have compared vegetarians with the population at large, this is not widely known; such studies provide a false picture because the population at large is not particularly health-conscious.

The question that arises is: does this mean that eating animal produce is good for health? The research shows that the answer is NO. But this raises a conundrum: why is it that vegetarians are less healthy than their non-vegetarians peers in the same demographic? This is the vegetarian paradox.


Russell Eaton is the author of "The Foolproof Diet". To find out more about the vegetarian paradox and claim your free ebook, go now to => The Vegetarian Paradox

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