Eating Less Meat Image

There are a lot of preconceived notions out there about what type of diet is best. The fact is that everyone has their own opinion. Even health and nutrition professionals have differing opinions on what type of diet is best. One of the best things you can do for your health is to find what diet works best for your individual health and fits your lifestyle.

Nutrition science is a field of study that looks at how food affects health and disease. One topic that is often studied is the link between food and cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 39.5% of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives. 1 The top four most common cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. 1 A recent research article published in the BMC Medicine journal in February 2022, analyzed the risk of cancer in regular meat eaters, low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians.

The researchers collected data from 472,377 participants who were cancer-free at the beginning of the trial. The participants completed a dietary questionnaire and were categorized into groups of regular meat eaters, low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians. A follow-up was completed with the participants after approximately 11 years. It was found that out of the 472,377 participants, there were 54,961 incidents of cancer during those 11 years. The analysis of data showed that when compared to regular meat-eaters, low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians all had a lower risk of cancer. 2 Among the cancer incidents, the three prominent types of cancer found were:

  • 5,882 cases of colorectal cancer
  • 7,537 cases of postmenopausal breast cancer
  • 9,501 cases of prostate cancer 2

The Bottom Line

This research study suggests that eating less meat may lower the risk of developing cancer. Diet is an important part of health. Maintaining a good diet should not be about having a certain body appearance, it is about staying healthy and preventing disease. Find what diet works for your life and individual health needs.


  1. Cancer statistics. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2022
  2. Watling, C.Z., Schmidt, J.A., Dunneram, Y. et al. Risk of cancer in regular and low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians: a prospective analysis of UK Biobank participants. BMC Med 20, 73 (2022)