Leading a vegan lifestyle can cut the risk of prostate cancer by 35 per cent, a new study has suggested.
A vegan diet is void of all animal products and is instead based entirely on plant foods, including fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains.
The US researches behind the findings used data on over 26,000 men to study how omnivorous and plant-based diets affected the chances of developing prostate cancer.
In total, 1,079 cases of prostate cancer were reported in the group, with around 8 per cent of those in men with a vegan diet.
The researchers at Loma Linda University in California found a 35 per cent reduction in prostate cancer risk in men who followed a vegan diet, which they called “statistically significant”.
Professor Gary Fraser, who led the study funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This new research makes a significant step in linking a vegan diet to reduced prostate cancer risk.
He added that further research was needed to determine the extent to which such a lifestyle could reduce the number of men developing cancer.
Prostate cancer affects more men in the UK than any other form of the disease, with 47,000 new cases identified each year. Of these, over 10,000 men will die each year.
Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of research funding at the WCRF, said that due to the high number of prostate cancer cases, prevention is the key to cutting the number of men developing the disease.
10 best vegan foods
10 best vegan foods
1/10 Provamel Organic Almond Original
This almond drink is a milk alternative that works for your coffee, muesli or baking. Although it won’t froth up as well as the regular white stuff, it makes up for its textural shortcomings with a delicious nutty taste. £2.59, goodnessdirect.co.uk
2/10 Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Going vegan means there are vitamins, especially B12, normally found in meat, that you’ll have to get from elsewhere. Put this in anything from stews to salads to add a cheesy, nutty flavour to your cooking. £2.80, ocado.com
3/10 Bute Island Foods garlic & herb Creamy sheese
Bute Island Foods makes a range of dairy-free “sheeses”. Ignore the silly name, they are a good substitute for the real thing, particularly this spreadable alternative. With a creamy texture and a rich, garlicky flavour it goes very well on a piece of toast. £2.48, goodnessdirect.co.uk
4/10 Clif Chocolate Almond Fudge Bar
Active types will like this rich, sweet treat made from oats, rice syrup, soybeans and almond purée, among other goodies. It tops up energy levels fast, making it ideal for runners, cyclists or hikers. A delicious chocolaty vegan-alternative to a brownie. £1.25, thehealthbay.com
5/10 Macsween Vegetarian Haggis
Just because you’re meat- and dairy-free doesn’t mean you have to opt out of Sunday roasts. This family-run business, famous for its traditional haggis, also makes a vegan/vegetarian alternative. It’s surprisingly rich in flavour, with the mushrooms, lentils and oatmeal providing a good chunky texture. And it’s lighter than the meaty alternative. £3.55, waitrose.com
6/10 Soulful Food OnePot Butternut, Lentil & Spinach hotpot
This low-fat, tasty hotpot is ideal if you need something quick and easy for dinner. With hints of Indian spices, and chunks of cauliflower and butternut squash, it’s good as it is, or you can beef it up with some extra veggies. £3.49, ocado.com
7/10 Pudology Gluten- and Dairy-Free Chocolate Puds
It’s hard to believe this rich chocolate pudding is completely dairy-free. Made with coconut milk chocolate ganache and Madagascan vanilla, it is our favourite from the Pudology range, which also features banoffee and strawberry desserts if chocolate’s not your thing. £2.76 (2 x 85g), ocado.com
8/10 Yu! Jus Fruit Blueberry Pieces
Sweet treats can be healthy. These bite-size blueberry pieces are free from added sugar, and with a similar texture to wine gums, kids will be fooled into thinking they’re the real deal. 67p, tesco.com
9/10 Rude Health Spelt Oaty
This small company prides itself on using natural ingredients that aren’t over-processed. Its high-fibre biscuits made from Scottish oatmeal, spelt flour and extra-virgin olive oil are a tasty addition to a packed lunch. £1.99 (4 x 50g), waitrose.com
10/10 Alara Into the Garden Organic active Muesli
This light, crisp breakfast offering made from a mix of amaranth, quinoa, finely chopped seeds and nuts and naturally sweetened with dried apple pieces, is just as tasty as your regular cereal. Try it with almond milk. £4.66, goodnessdirect.co.uk
Describing the research as “exciting”, she said “[the study has] helped fill some vital gaps in our knowledge about eating patterns and the prevention of prostate cancer and could pave the way for future research.”
She said that scientists must now attempt to prove the strength of the link between a vegan diet and reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
Jimmy Pierce, spokesman for the Vegan Society, said that the notion that eating meat is “macho” and “somehow enhances masculinity or virility” must be case aside to protect men’s health.
“Now is the time to reject this outdated notion and embrace plant-based living regardless of gender - for the animals and the planet as well as your health.”
The study comes after the World Health Organisation classed processed meat as a carcinogenic, and also found that red meat "probably" causes cancer.
At the time, Dr Ian Johnson, Emeritus Fellow at IFR and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Medicine at UEA, told The Independent that meat is linked to cancer because: “When you heat protein and fat, particularly in BBQing, the very high temperature cooking produces again carcinogenic chemicals by breaking down protein.
"These compounds then enter the circulation system or sit in the intestine and damage cells."
Additional reporting by PA