The pros of going pescetarian
Those who shun eating meat and poultry but still like to indulge in fish aren't part-time vegetarians, they actually conform to a pescetarian diet. And now research has found that this way of eating can actually have huge benefits for our bodies - namely protecting against bowel cancer.
The new US study looked at 77,659 Seventh-Day Adventist men and women in America, with a considerable number of these vegetarians.
Those who consumed a diet rich in fish and vegetables, but no meat, were 43 per cent less likely to develop bowel cancer. Vegetarians also had 22 per cent less chance of developing the cancer than meat eaters. It also found that being a part-time vegetarian can have an impact, with an eight per cent reduced risk.
The consumption of alcohol and red or processed meat, smoking and being overweight (particularly around the middle) are often flagged up as the main risk factors for bowel cancer.
"The results of this study seem consistent with prior evidence that often links the consumption of red meat, especially processed meats, to an increased risk of colorectal (bowel) cancers," Assistant Professor Michael Orlich, of Loma Linda University, California, said.
"Although reduction in meat intake may be a primary reason for the reduced risk demonstrated in vegetarians, an increase in the consumption of various whole plant foods might also contribute to the reduction."
He adds a vegetarian diet tends to include fewer refined grains, added fats, sweets, snack foods, and calorific beverages.
Because the diet tends to be healthier, vegetarians are less likely to be obese, tying in with previous research that suggests more fat around the middle can lead to an increased colorectal cancer risk.
"Such a pattern might be expected to reduce hyperinsulinemia [where insulin levels in the blood are higher than normal], which has been proposed as a possible mechanism by which diet may increase colorectal cancer risk.
"In a similar manner, some research has suggested that insulin like growth factors and binding proteins may relate to cancer risk," Professor Orlich noted.
Adding more fish to your diet will also increase your intake of omega-3, which has previously been found to improve heart health.