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Vegetarian Diets Associated with Lower Risk of Death

Jun 13, 2013
Vegetarian diets are associated with reduced death rates in a study of more than 70,000 participants….

Vegetarian diets are often connected with a decreased risk for common and chronic health conditions such as: hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, reproductive complication and ischemic heart disease.

The study, conducted by Michael J. Orlich, M.D., of Loma Linda University in California, and colleagues, tested dietary habits as related to mortality with a goal of examining all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a group of 73,308 men and women. Researchers used a questionnaire categorizing the study participants into five dietary groups: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (seafood is acceptable), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (dairy and egg products are acceptable) and vegan (no animal products are acceptable).

Participants in the vegetarian groups were more likely to be older, hold a higher education degree, be married, consume less alcohol, not smoke tobacco and exercise more. Those in any vegetarian group tended to be less obese and thinner opposed to the nonvegetarian study population.

There were 2,570 mortalities among the study participants during an average follow-up time of almost six years. 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 vs. nonvegetarians was 0.88. These study results suggested that vegetarians have approximately a12 percent lower incidence of all cause mortalities in comparison to non-vegetarians. The relationship for decreased mortalities among vegetarians also appears to be more favorable for men with a higher reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality and ischemic heart disease mortality in vegetarians vs. nonvegetarians. However, vegetarian women had no significant decreases in these categories of mortality.

Michael J. Orlich, Pramil N Singh, Joan Sabaté, Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, Jing Fan, Synnove Knutsen, W. Lawrence Beeson, Gary E. Fraser. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6473