Study Shows that Vegetarians Live with Higher Risk of Depression and Cancer

Christina Drill
April 03, 2014

The Medical University of Graz in Austria paired up with the Austrian Health Interview Survey to run a study on vegetarians versus meat eaters, to see how each group differed health-wise. The results? They were prettaaaay surprising.

The Austrian study confirmed that yes, vegetarians on the whole smoke less, make more money, drink less alcohol, and have lower B.M.I.s, but that the vegetarian diet (which is low in saturated fat and cholesterol) carries a much higher risk of cancer, allergies, and mental health problems.

For example-- vegetarians are twice as likely to have allergies than meat eaters. They have double the risk of getting cancer, and double the risk of heart attacks. This survey is unique because past studies of the like have focused on the health risks of diets that include high amounts of meat and the positives of a vegetarian diet.

The people who consumed lower amounts of animal fat were also linked to poor health care practices-- many did not get vaccinations or return to doctors for follow-up visits. In addition, long-term issues linked to vegetarians and people eating carnivorous diets that were rich in fruits and veggies were linked to more visits to the doctors office.

“Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment," the researchers concluded. "Therefore, a continued strong public health program for Austria is required in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors.”

Austrian researchers caution that continuing studies need to be done to substantiate these findings, since this is the first study of its kind to yield such results.

(PS- A 2009 study from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found that about 1 in 200 young Americans, or 367,000 US children, are vegetarians.)

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