Subscribe to my RSS feed RSS
August 26, 2010

Do Vegetarians Live Longer?

vegetarian-liveMany people become vegetarians for moral reasons, but some do so for health reasons. For example, studies have found that eating too much red meat leads to increased risk of heart disease, certain cancers and other problems, resulting in higher rates of lethal illness and death. This research has lead many people who are concerned about their health to reduce consumption of beef or become completely vegetarian. No one denies that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but does being a vegetarian do anything really significant for a person, such as giving them longer lives?

Heart Attack Risk

Several studies have found that vegetarians do not have as many heart attacks as people who eat meat. However, this advantage does not last forever – the older a vegetarian is the higher the risk for heart attack gets. For example, vegetarians who are 65 and younger are 45% less likely to have a heart attack than people who eat meat. But when those vegetarians hit 80, they are only 8% less likely to have a heart attack than people who eat meat. So at the end of the day, once you get older being a vegetarian may not actually help you live longer.

Conflicting Reports of Longevity

In terms of actual longevity, different studies suggest opposing things. For example, some studies say that vegetarians do not have a significantly longer life. Other studies claim that vegetarians do, with an average increase of 3.6 years. In fact, one study that focused on Seventh Day Adventists who eat little to no meat showed that on average, men lived 7.28 years longer and women lived 4.42 years longer than the average meat eater. However, this data may be skewed because Seventh Day Adventists, in addition to consuming less meat, also do not use alcohol and tobacco, something that is not taken into account when doing research on regular vegetarians. Some scientists suggest that being a vegetarian may reduce your risk of disease which may result in a longer life, but does not affect actual lifespan.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Researchers are starting to suspect that vegetarians are lacking something called carnosine, also found in meat. Carnosine is a nutrient that prevents glycation reactions in the body. Glycation is a process involved in many degenerative diseases. Some studies suggest that lacking carnosine actually contributes to higher risk of diseases, making vegetarians more likely to die young so to a certain extent the verdict is still out.

This is a guest post by Gary Kohler from the life insurance website LifeCover. Click here to find out more about his website.

General Thoughts

No comments yet

There are no comments yet, be the first!

Leave a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>