Vegetarians who eat fish could be greatly reducing their risk of colon cancer

Story highlights

  • A new study shows a 43% lower risk of contracting colorectal cancer with a pesco-vegetarian diet
  • Colorectal cancers are the third most diagnosed cancers in the U.S.
  • Plant-based diets may also contribute to greater weight loss and lower blood pressure

(CNN)Dropping red meat, and sticking to a plant-based diet that incorporates fish may be the key to preventing colorectal (colon and rectum) cancers, according to a seven-year study published Monday. Pescetarians, as they are commonly referred, had a 43% lower chance of getting the cancer compared to people with omnivorous diets.

Why focus on colorectal cancer? It is the third most diagnosed cancer, and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the US in 2014, according to American Cancer Society statistics. The disease is particularly dangerous because it is usually asymptomatic in its early stages, making it more difficult to detect when it's less deadly. Only 59% of those recommended for screenings receive procedures that are in line with the American Cancer Society's standards.
The study, which followed nearly 78,000 people and was published in the Journal of American Medical Association, adds to the growing body of evidence touting the health benefits of a plant-based diet.