June 3, 2013
LOMA LINDA, Calif.Individuals, particularly men, who consume a vegetarian diet have a lower risk of death compared to nonvegetarians, according to a new study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings support previous studies that have shown the association between vegetarian diets and reductions in risk for several chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease (IHD).
Researchers at Loma Linda University examined all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a group of 73,308 men and women Seventh-day Adventists. Researchers assessed dietary patients using a questionnaire that categorized study participants into five groups: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products).
The study notes that vegetarian groups tended to be older, more highly educated and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.
Some evidence suggests vegetarian dietary patterns may be associated with reduced mortality, but the relationship is not well established," the authors said.
Over the 6-year follow-up, there were 2,570 deaths among the study participants. The overall mortality rate was six deaths per 1,000 person years. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality in all vegetarians combined versus nonvegetarians was 0.88, or 12% lower. The association also appears to be better for men with significant reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality and IHD death in vegetarians versus nonvegetarians. In women, there were no significant reductions in these categories of mortality, the results indicate.
These results demonstrate an overall association of vegetarian dietary patterns with lower mortality compared with the nonvegetarian dietary pattern. They also demonstrate some associations with lower mortality of the pesco-vegetarian, vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets specifically compared with the nonvegetarian diet," the authors concluded.
A January 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found vegetarians have a 32% lower risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease compared to people who eat meat and fish.
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