A new review of scientific research produced in the last 20 years has shown the strength of the evidence that concludes plant-based diets can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy, and the Stanford University School of Medicine in the US, authored this comprehensive review. After a large-scale analysis, they concluded that vegetarians and vegans were significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and cancer, and tended to have better cardiometabolic health overall, with less inflammation, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and leaner BMIs than meat-eaters. No difference in the risk of developing gestational diabetes and hypertension was reported in pregnant women following vegetarian diets.

The study, titled “Cardiovascular Health And Cancer Risk Associated With Plant Based Diets: An Umbrella Review”, was published on 15th May 2024 in PLOS One. It looked at publications in the medical journals PubMed and Scopus, including reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses published from 1st January 2000 to 31st June 2023, written in English and involving human subjects of all ages. In the end, the researchers pooled data from 48 meta-analyses involving hundreds of thousands of participants across a range of demographics.

The study aims to assess the impact of animal-free and animal-products-free diets (A/APFDs) on the risk factors associated with the development of cardiometabolic diseases, cancer, and their related mortalities. The authors wrote, “This umbrella review offers valuable insights on the estimated reduction of risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, and the CVDs-associated mortality, offered by the adoption of plant-based diets through pleiotropic mechanisms. Through the improvement of glycolipid profile, reduction of body weight/BMI, blood pressure, and systemic inflammation, A/AFPDs significantly reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer, as well as related mortality.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.