Eat Your Way to Lower Cancer Risk: How a Plant-Based Diet Could Add Years to Your Life

Did you know there’s a diet that reduces your chances of getting deadly forms of cancer by more than 20 percent? According to a study conducted by scientists at Loma Linda University in California, eating a vegetarian diet lowers the chances of all colorectal cancers by 22 percent, colon cancer by 19 percent, and rectal cancer by 29 percent.

They analyzed the eating habits and medical history of more than 77,000 people and found that, compared to those who regularly eat meat, vegans enjoyed a 16 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer, while lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who consume milk and eggs) reduced their risk by 18 percent.

Pescovegatarians and semivegetarians

Even more impressive, pescovegatarians (those who avoid meat but eat fish and vegetarian foods) had a 43 percent reduced cancer risk. So-called “semivegetarians,” people who eat a limited amount of meat, were 8 percent less likely to get colorectal cancer than omnivores.

Red meat and processed meat

The researchers explained that previous studies have identified eating red meat as a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Though some argue that it’s processed red meat that is the chief danger, the problem is that processed meat is widespread in food stores and is often the only choice available. Other studies have highlighted the benefits of consuming plenty of dietary fiber to reduce your risk of cancer.

The Loma Linda study and Seventh-Day Adventists

What should you eat then to promote cancer prevention? While researchers may not have all the answers yet, there is a strong indication that a more “natural” diet significantly reduces your risk of cancer.

It’s noteworthy that the town of Loma Linda, where the university that conducted the study is located, is predominantly made up of Seventh-Day Adventists, whose residents are also mostly vegetarian. Loma Linda has a large grocery store that sells no meat at all. You can’t smoke there. And there is hardly a fast-food restaurant in sight. As a result, the people in Loma Linda live around seven years longer than the average American.

Cancer death rates

Furthermore, the death rate from cancer for Adventist men is 60 percent lower than that of the average California male; for Adventist women, it is 75 percent lower.

Additional benefits of a vegetarian diet

Besides the reduced risk of cancer, a vegetarian diet also carries other health benefits. It promotes heart health by reducing the levels of saturated fat and cholesterol in your body. Vegetarians also have lower rates of hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet

A more in-depth look at vegetarian diets reveals that it’s not simply the absence of meat that makes it healthy. The additional fiber, vitamins, and minerals provided by plant-based foods are powerful weapons in warding off chronic diseases. Here are some tips to include more plant-based foods in your diet:

  1. Start gradually. Instead of completely eliminating meat from your daily routine, start by focusing on incorporating more vegetables and plant-based protein sources like beans and legumes into your meals on a regular basis.

  2. Think about food preparation. Rather than boiling or steaming vegetables, try various cooking methods, such as grilling, roasting, or stir-frying, to enhance their natural flavors and retain their nutrients.

  3. Pack a colorful plate. Make it a point to include a variety of color on your plate by seeking out different fruits, vegetables, and legumes, each with their unique nutritional benefit.

  4. Discover new recipes. Research and try out new vegetarian recipes to keep your meals diverse and interesting.

  5. Don’t rely on processed food substitutes. While there are plenty of meat substitutes available in supermarkets, it’s essential not to rely on these processed products entirely. Focus on consuming whole, natural foods more often.


It’s clear that a vegetarian or predominantly plant-based diet can significantly reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancers and other chronic diseases. When possible, choose natural, unprocessed foods, and gradually incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins into your diet. Your health is worth the effort, and your body will thank you for making the change.