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Diet And Colon Cancer: What Seventh-Day Adventists Can Teach Us

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A new study suggests a vegetarian diet, or one based on vegetables and fish, could lower your chances of getting colon cancer. The study focused on 77,000 Seventh-Day Adventists. Dr. Ronney Stadler, a colorectal surgeon with Baylor Medical Center in Irving, explains for KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

The study was spotlighted this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It focused on church members living near Loma Linda University in southern California.

From Dr. Stadler’s interview:

Why study Seventh-Day Adventists? “The Adventist population that they’re studying around Loma Linda University is an area in the United States where people tend to live seven to ten years longer than the rest of the population. They tend to smoke less, drink less, exercise more and tend to be less stressed than the rest of the country.

Study Results: Those who eat a vegetarian or plant-based diet had lower risk for colon cancer. “We don’t know why. We think it’s related to multiple factors: Vegetarians have a lower body-mass index. They have a tendency to be less obese than the rest of the population. There are proteins that are measured in our blood that only come from eating animal products, and those proteins may be a factor in the increased rate of cancer formation. Fiber has been shown to decrease the risk of colon cancer over time. The pesco-vegetarians –persons who consumed fish more than once a month and red meat less than once a month had the greatest risk reduction of colon cancer. The study is very useful in showing that you can reduce your risk of colon cancer by up to 20 percent."

For more information:

Vegetarian diet linked to lower colon cancer risk

Seventh Day Adventist Study

Colon and Rectal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.