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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Do vegetarians live longer? Maybe, but not because of their eating habits (13 photos)

You may have noticed that in the last few years, more and more people give up meat. At parties and family barbecues, social networks or news vegetarianism (and its more severe cousin veganism) is becoming increasingly popular.

Why vegetarianism is becoming popular? 
Although vegetarian burger and salad vegetables are not able to fully replace the lamb, chicken or beef, the number of people who call themselves vegetarians, is growing steadily.

According to statistics collected by, for example, in Australia, almost 2.1 million adults now say that their diet completely or for the most part is a vegetarian. In our country, these people too much. Probably everyone has at least one friend or acquaintance who has decided to give up meat. But if you ask these friends, why they decided to become a vegetarian, you probably will get many different answers. The most popular reasons are the care of animals and the environment, ethical issues, religious beliefs, and, of course, an attempt to improve their health.

Vegetarianism and life expectancy 
It is this last factor we will try to explore. There are several studies on the impact of vegetarianism on health, but their results have been mixed. A study of 2013, for example, which surveyed more than 95,000 men and women in the United States from 2002 to 2009, found that vegetarians have a 12% reduced risk of death from all causes, compared with meat-eaters. 

Given the controversial nature of the debate about vegetarianism and meat-eating, these findings have caused a lot of speculation and people who are fond of vegetarianism, welcomed the study.

An Australian study 
Australian scientists have decided to test the results to see whether vegetarianism is able to reduce the risk of early death among the population. It is home to Australia's largest in the southern hemisphere of the ongoing study on healthy aging, which was organized by the Institute of Sachs. This allowed the researchers to obtain information about the health of more than 260,000 men and women aged 45 years and older in New South Wales.

They focused on the 267,180 men and women who were an average age of six years. During the observation period, 836 participants died 16. When the researchers compared the risk of early death for vegetarians and meat-eaters, while controlling a number of other factors, they did not find any statistical difference. 

Simply put, the evidence suggests that vegetarians have a lower risk of early death compared to meat-eaters.

Similar results were British researchers 
This lack of "advantages for survival" among vegetarians is not a complete surprise to the researchers. Its results are presented in an article published in the journal "Preventive Medicine". Study 2015, conducted in the United Kingdom concluded that vegetarians had a similar risk of death from all causes, which are characteristic of carnivores. But this contradicts the results of the study, which is based in the United States. 

Does this mean that vegetarians need to put aside the asparagus, ignite and start the barbecue to cook steaks and cheeseburgers? Not necessary.

"Complicating" factors 
In epidemiological studies, there is a standard practice of statistical control of various factors, which scientists call "complicate", as they may be mistaken association. Scientists have to control a number of factors to get the true information as to whether the self is in itself veganism reduce the risk of premature death.

It is important to bear in mind that most vegetarians studies are caring about their people's health, which generally have healthier lifestyles than others. For example, among the study participants in the Institute Sachs Vegetarians less likely than meat-eaters, reported smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and overweight or obesity. Furthermore, they are much less frequent in the early studies reported heart diseases or metabolic disorders, and cancer.

In most previous studies vegetarians had a lower risk of early death from all causes in the unregulated analysis. However, after controlling for other lifestyle factors such as those listed above, the risk reduction is often significantly decreased (or even completely disappeared).

Healthy lifestyle 
This suggests other reasons for better health among vegetarians, apart from abstinence from meat. Simply put, it is associated with a healthy lifestyle, which usually comes along with vegetarianism, for example, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical exercise. This may explain why vegetarians tend to have better health outcomes than meat-eaters.

In a separate study, which was performed, scientists using data from people over 45 years, it has been found that if they eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (especially those who drank seven different species or more per day) had a lower risk of death, even if others factors were taken into account. 

Although there is no conclusive evidence that a vegetarian diet promotes longevity, studies consistently show other health benefits. For example, vegetarianism has consistently been associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and obesity.

Meta-analysis (statistical analysis, which combines data from several studies) in 2012 showed that vegetarians are 29% lower risk for premature death from cardiovascular diseases and 18% risk of developing cancer.

It is important to bear in mind that the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization has classified as a carcinogen-treated meat. In addition, red meat may also be carcinogenic to humans.

So what does all this mean? 
Although scientists can not yet say for sure if that helps you live longer vegetarianism, they say with certainty that a well-planned, well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is beneficial. 

It is also known that a sufficient physical activity, reducing alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco are the key factors of longevity. And there is increasing evidence that vegetarians have more chances to get these healthy habits.

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