Vegetarians more susceptible to allergies, cancer, heart disease and depression

A new study from the University of Graz contradicts the politically correct advantages usually attributed to vegetarianism. “… our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life”. 

It would seem that vegetarianism is “more about an ideological message that suggests false promises”.

Nutrition and Health – The Association between Eating Behavior and Various Health Parameters: A Matched Sample Study by Nathalie T. Burkert, Johanna Muckenhuber, Franziska Großschädl, Eva Rasky, Wolfgang Freidl, PLOS One, February 2014, Volume9, Issue 2.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088278

Abstract: Population-based studies have consistently shown that our diet has an influence on health. Therefore, the aim of our study was to analyze differences between different dietary habit groups in terms of health-related variables. The sample used for this cross-sectional study was taken from the Austrian Health Interview Survey AT-HIS 2006/07. In a first step, subjects were matched according to their age, sex, and socioeconomic status (SES). After matching, the total number of subjects included in the analysis was 1320 (N = 330 for each form of diet – vegetarian, carnivorous diet rich in fruits and vegetables, carnivorous diet less rich in meat, and carnivorous diet rich in meat). Analyses of variance were conducted controlling for lifestyle factors in the following domains: health (self-assessed health, impairment, number of chronic conditions, vascular risk), health care (medical treatment, vaccinations, preventive check-ups), and quality of life. In addition, differences concerning the presence of 18 chronic conditions were analyzed by means of Chi-square tests. Overall, 76.4% of all subjects were female. 40.0% of the individuals were younger than 30 years, 35.4% between 30 and 49 years, and 24.0% older than 50 years. 30.3% of the subjects had a low SES, 48.8% a middle one, and 20.9% had a high SES. Our results revealed that a vegetarian diet is related to a lower BMI and less frequent alcohol consumption. Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life. Therefore, public health programs are needed in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors.

Press Release (in German)

NoTricksZone summarises the findings:

The scientists examined a total of 1320 persons who were divided up into 4 groups of 330 persons each. All groups were comparable with respect to gender, age, and socio-economic status. The study also accounted for smoking and physical activity. Also the BMI was within the normal range for all four groups (22.9 – 24.9). The only thing that really was different among the four groups was the diet. The four groups were: 1) vegetarians, 2) meat-eaters with lots of fruit and veggies, 3) little meat-eaters and 4) big meat-eaters. More than three quarters of the participants were women (76.4%).

..the results contradict the common cliché that meat-free diets are healthier. Vegetarians have twice as many allergies as big meat-eaters do (30.6% to 16.7%) and they showed 166% higher cancer rates (4.8% to 1.8%). Moreover the scientists found that vegans had a 150% higher rate of heart attacks (1.5% to 0.6%). In total the scientists looked at 18 different chronic illnesses. Compared to the big meat-eaters, vegetarians were hit harder in 14 of the 18 illnesses (78%) which included asthma, diabetes, migraines and osteoporosis .

The Medical University of Graz confirms findings by the University of Hildesheim: More frequent psychological disorders among vegetarians, the press release writes.

…. the University of Graz found that vegetarians were also twice as likely to suffer for anxiety or depressions than big meat eaters (9.4% to 4.5%). That result was confirmed by the University of Hildesheim, which found that vegetarians suffered significantly more from depressions, anxiety, psychosomatic complaints and eating disorders [2]. The U of Graz scientists also found that vegetarians are impacted more by ilnessses and visit the doctor more frequently …….

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3 Responses to “Vegetarians more susceptible to allergies, cancer, heart disease and depression”

  1. Michal Says:

    medical treatment, vaccinations, preventive check-ups- it is not clear how these were defined. Vegetarians may consider a treatment to include accupuncture, accupressure, chiropractic, massage, ayurvedic, or other such alternative practices to constitute their trips to the doctor as well and as such this could account for higher use of medical “treatment” as well as preventative checkups. Also, only 2% of the interviewees in this study are listed as being vegetarian, and this is achieved by lumping vegans together with vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs and with vegetarians who eat fish. PlosOne is not a high impact factor journal and I would be curious to see the data from this piece reviewed by those in the medical or nutrition field, esp. the statistical analyses.

  2. Michal Says:

    This study also focuses on Austrians and I’m told by one that the national diet is very heavily meaty and the vegetables available tend toward a lack of variety, not like in other parts of Europe or the world. The paper states that the AT-HIS (Austrian Health Interview Survey) is a subset of a much larger E-HIS, which covers all of Europe. I wonder what that survey reveals, and also, how questions were posed overall, and if other countries feature a higher percentage of people in veg groups, higher than 2% at least. For this to contradict so much of large study data is perhaps more revealing of Austrians than of any particular dietary group.

  3. Julie K. Says:

    Yes, guys, this study focuses on Austrians so I’m not sure if they included average pork-schnitzel-eaters to claim this. I really don’t think eating vegetables and cheese can cause cancer. It sounds alarming but don’t you think they only needed to sell some pork?

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