Sunday Inspiration – Live longer, and happier!
Cut your risk of cancer while you lose weight.
The Oxford arm of the European Prospective Investigations Into Cancer (EPIC) has released a report showing that after an average of 14.9 years of follow-up, vegetarians (.88, .82-.95) and pesco-vegetarians (.88, .80-.97) each have a 12% lower risk of cancer than other meat-eaters (1). If the participants were further broken down into vegetarian or vegans, then vegans were found to lower their cancer risk by 19%:
Pesco – .88 (.80, .97) – vegetarians who eat fish
Lacto-ovo – .89 (.83, .96) — vegetarians who eat milk and eggs
Vegan – .81 (.66, .98) — vegans avoid all animal products in their diet
The findings for vegans were similar to those in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2), the other ongoing study containing a large number of vegans. Diets were assessed at the beginning of the study and then again at the end of the study, so there is a possibility that people were inconsistent across the time of the study with their diet.
Also, no particular specific cancer type explains the differences between diet groups. There is no particular cancer that decreased to explain the overall reduction in cancer. Rather, in the study, all kinds of cancers were reduced in a vegetarian or vegan diet.
When I discussed this data with my colleagues in the doctors’ dining room, the first question asked was about weight. The average plant-based eater is 40 pounds lighter than the average omnivore, so it is possible that the decreased amount of obesity contributed to the reduction in cancer frequency in the healthy eaters.
But this doesn’t appear to be true. When the researchers adjusted for BMI, they did find a small change, but not significant. Adjusting for BMI only slightly changed the findings for vegetarians (.90, .93-.96) and for vegans (.82, .68-1.00).
This study provides further assurance that diet and lifestyle will help you prevent cancer. Losing weight by adding healthy foods to your diet not only makes you trimmer and thinner; it protects you from cancer too. Every pound matters. Excess weight has been associated with 13 different cancers, and risk increases even within the normal weight range (New York Times, August 24, 2016)
- Key TJ, Appleby PN, Crowe FL, Bradbury KE, Schmidt JA, Travis RC. Cancer in British vegetarians: updated analysis of 4998 incident cancers in a cohort of 32,491 meat eaters, 8612 fish eaters, 18,298 vegetarians, and 2246 vegans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun 4
HOW GRATITUDE HELPS YOU LIVE LONGER AND BETTER
Cultivating gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kindness toward others, including partners. Feeling grateful reduces anger responses to frustrating experiences, decreasing the likelihood of aggressive behavior when provoked.
However, what should you do if you aren’t really the grateful type? Take advice from the some of the experts!
At the University of Miami and UC Davis, researchers instructed subjects to keep a gratitude journal, listing in one sentence or less the top five things, experiences, or people they were grateful to have in their lives.
After just ten weeks, there were significant changes. People who kept a gratitude journal were more optimistic and reported feeling a full 25% happier. They also experienced fewer headaches and other physical problems, and spent 1.5 more hours exercising each week.
In a related study, subjects wrote in their gratitude journal every day. Daily entries led to an unexpected benefit: subjects reported offering others more goodwill and emotional support with personal problems.
Gratitude helps enhance empathy. Studies at Northeastern University and in Kentucky showed that when someone went out of their way to do a favor for a stranger—in this case, fixing their broken computer – the person who was helped was likelier to help someone else in the future. Pay it Forward. It’s good karma.
Similar findings were seen in a study of polio survivors (PPS) and other people with neuromuscular disorders (NMDs). People who keep a gratitude journal – and their partners! – reported more happiness and optimism. They slept better, longer, and more restoratively too.
Partners of the subjects reported that the subjects appeared to “have a higher subjective well-being than did the partners of the participants in the control.”
It’s been said that gratitude is the antidote to materialism. Imagine if people put an entry into their gratitude journal at night instead of flipping through a catalog or shopping on the internet. We’d sleep better, move better, be kinder to our families, more charitable to perfect strangers, and feel much better too!
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Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD