A study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association says that those who stick to a vegetarian diet live up to 3.6 years longer than those who don’t. Meanwhile, mortality from all causes is higher for those who consume meat everyday, especially red or processed meat, echoing previous research that showed processed meats can cause cancer.

“This data reinforces what we have known for so long — your diet has great potential to harm or heal,” says Brookshield Laurent, an assistant professor of family medicine and clinical sciences at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. “This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counselling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine.”

The researchers assessed six earlier studies that explored the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality rates. Eating processed and red meat increased the all-cause mortality.


The mortality rate is higher in those who eat meat daily. Credit: Pixabay/Alexas_Fotos

The research team also points out that a 2003 review of more than 500,000 individuals showed that those who eat less meat have a 25 percent to 50 percent decreased risk of dying from all causes earlier. Meanwhile, those who followed a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years experienced an increase in life expectancy of up to 3.6 years compared to those who only followed the vegetarian diet for a shorter period of time.

The findings suggest that health care workers should recommend to their patients a reduced consumption of animal products. The researchers are advising the public to eat more plants than meat.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that processed meat is a carcinogen. The World Health Organisation cites red meat which includes pork, beef, lamb and goat in the list. On the other hand, processed meat like ham, deli, hotdogs, bacon, sausages and other types of meat that had undergone some processing to preserve or add flavour to it are also carcinogens because of the fermenting, salting, curing and smoking processes it undergoes.