Medicine

Vegetarians may have higher risk of stroke

Vegetarians may have higher risk of stroke

"While this method can say the risk of stroke isn't as low as one might expect it to be in vegetarians considering how much healthier they are in general compared to meat-eaters, their overall risk of a major life-changing cardiovascular event happening still appears much lower".

Meanwhile, vegetarians had a 20% higher risk of having a stroke than meat-eaters.

A study in the British Medical Journal indicates vegetarians and vegans have a lower rate of heart disease than people who eat meat but had a greater chance of stroke.

Data from more than 48,000 adults with no history of heart disease or stroke, all of whom signed up to a wider study running from 1993 and 2001, were analysed.

The study placed participants in three groups: Meat eaters, fish eaters and vegetarians.

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

After taking account of potentially influential factors, such as medical history, smoking, use of dietary supplements and physical activity, pescetarians and vegetarians had a 13% and 22% lower risk of CHD than meat eaters, respectively.

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This increased risk may be due to the lower levels of B12 and circulating cholesterol found in vegans and vegetarians, according to the study. They were ten teamed into meat-eaters, pescetarians, and vegetarians including vegans. The difference may be at least partly due to lower BMI and lower rates of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes linked to these diets, say the authors.

This new research supports earlier findings that low cholesterol levels, though typically thought of as a healthy thing, may somehow cause a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

As the study involved very few vegans, these individuals were grouped with vegetarians in the analysis. The subjects were followed up for a total of 18 years and during this period, 2,820 cases of ischaemic heart disease were reported and 1,072 cases of stroke were reported.

A number of studies have found health benefits associated with eating plant-based and reduced-meat diets, including reduced inflammation, a decrease in the severity of diseases that involve chronic inflammation, reduced risks of developing heart disease and certain cancers, and more.

The researchers warned that the study was observational, saying "the findings may not be widely applicable because they were mainly based on white Europeans", per the release. "Participants were all from the United Kingdom where dietary patterns and other lifestyle behaviors are likely very different from those prevalent in low and middle-income countries where most of the world's vegetarians live".

"Relevance to vegetarians worldwide must also be considered".


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