Health Care

Vegetarians, vegans have higher stroke risk than meat eaters, study claims

Vegetarians, vegans have higher stroke risk than meat eaters, study claims”

But it's too soon to run out and order a steak.

There were 2,820 cases of CHD and 1,072 cases of stroke during the study period, including 519 cases of ischaemic stroke (when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain) and 300 cases of hemorrhagic stroke.

The study examined over 48,000 people with no history of heart disease or stroke.

Previous studies have suggested that vegetarians have a lower risk of CHD than non-vegetarians, but data from large studies are limited and little has been reported on the difference in risk of stroke.

For the study, researchers from Oxford University looked at the dietary habits and health of 48,188 adult men and women in the United Kingdom over the course of 18 years. The researchers monitored these individuals for about 18 years, asking them to complete another detailed dietary survey toward the end of the study.

After adjusting for factors like lifestyle and demographic characteristics, the researchers found a 20% higher rate of stroke among people who either began or ended the study as vegetarians compared to meat eaters.

"Shifting towards a plant-based diet can have personal and planetary health benefits, though it does not necessarily mean becoming a vegetarian", he said.

Vegetarians, vegans have higher stroke risk than meat eaters, study claims

But, they acknowledged that their observational study can not prove that diet alone is the cause for vegetarians' increased stroke risk. In addition, those who eat only fish and practice a no-meat diet, also called a pescatarian diet, show a 13 percent reduced risk.

The researchers said the elevated stroke risk could be linked to low vitamin B12 levels, but said more studies were needed to investigate the link. "For those who do eat meat, cutting back to less than 90g of red or processed meat a day is advised". The rest, a little more than half, were on a traditional diet featuring a variety of meat, legumes, fruits and veggies.

In addition to low cholesterol levels, vegetarians and vegans also had lower levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, and amino acids than meat eaters, which may be related to their higher stroke risk.

"It is based on results from just one study and the increase is modest relative to meat-eaters", Lawrence and McNaughton added. The researchers also didn't ask why people were following certain diets, so it's possible-even though the researchers tried to adjust for influencing factors-that some people with health issues or family histories of medical problems were following vegetarian diets for those reasons.

"Additional studies in other large scale cohorts with a high proportion of non-meat eaters are needed to confirm the generalisability of these results and assess their relevance for clinical practice and public health".

In other words: The research probably isn't cause for a celebratory hamburger.



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