Friday, 17 January, 2020

Study shows mixed results for those giving up meat

The study found that vegans and vegetarians had a 20% higher risk of having a stroke than meat-eaters The study found that vegans and vegetarians had a 20% higher risk of having a stroke than meat-eaters
Gustavo Carr | 06 September, 2019, 07:24

But vegetarians and vegans had a higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, particularly hemorrhagic stroke (when blood from an artery starts bleeding into the brain), which the researchers suggest may reflect low blood levels of total cholesterol or a low intake of certain vitamins.

Vegetarianism is all the rage these days, but a new study suggests that slicing meat from your diet might raise your risk of stroke slightly.

The research, conducted by tracking almost 50,000 people over a span of almost two decades, found that vegetarians and vegans had a 20-percent higher risk of stroke than meat eaters - particularly hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused when blood from an artery bleeds into the brain. This translates to 3 more cases of stroke per 1,000 people over 10 years. Some prior research suggests that the same low cholesterol levels that protect people from heart disease may put them at greater risk of having a stroke.

The study placed participants in three groups: Meat eaters, fish eaters and vegetarians.

In recent years, more and more people have been turning to vegetarian and vegan diets, which is partly due to the perceived health benefits, as well as concerns about the environment and animal welfare.

Some physicians point out the 22 percent reduction in heart disease vegetarians enjoy outweighs the stroke risk. Vegetarians and vegans might also have low levels of some nutrients, such as vitamin B12, which is only naturally available from animal foods, she added.

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The study is part of an EPIC-Oxford research project that analyses the long-term impact of people's diets.

Altogether, there were 2,820 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 1,072 cases of stroke - including 300 haemorrhagic strokes, which happen when a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain.

Of the 48,188 participants, half of them were meat-eaters, just over 16,000 were vegans or vegetarians, and 7,500 were pescatarian. This positive link may be due to the lower number of people in these categories who had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

The researchers warned that the study was observational, saying "the findings may not be widely applicable because they were mainly based on white Europeans", per the release. "Participants were all from the United Kingdom where dietary patterns and other lifestyle behaviours are likely very different from those prevalent in low and middle-income countries where most of the world's vegetarians live".

"Relevance to vegetarians worldwide must also be considered", they said.

"Whether you're a committed carnivore, a veggie, or a vegan, one way to reduce your risk of heart and circulatory diseases is to ensure you're eating a balanced diet, packed with plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds".