Cancer and the Vegetarian Diet - U.S. Cancer Rates
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From William Harris, M.D.
December 21, 1999

U.S. Cancer Rates


Table 1. U.S. cancer rates.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, where over 1.3 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed annually, with 550,000 deaths. Current United States incidence figures for the ten leading types of cancer are shown (2). Women have an approximately 1:8 lifetime chance of developing breast cancer, and men have an approximately 1:5 chance of developing prostate cancer. Rates above are per 100,000 in 1992. Both Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are included under lymphoma.

There are three categories of evidence suggesting that a veg*n (vegetarian or vegan) diet reduces risk for various types of cancer.

Epidemiologically, the intake of animal source food correlates with the country-by-country incidence of six types of cancer. Although none of the reporting countries can be assumed to have large vegan or even vegetarian populations, it appears that the less animal source food per capita, the lower the cancer rate.

In the following graphs, the Y axis contains the disease, the X axis contains the animal source dietary risk factor. R is the correlation coefficient which reflects the "goodness of fit" of the data points to the sloping regression line. The p-value is the probability the apparent relationship is merely a mathematical coincidence. An R of 1 would indicate a direct linear relationship, while an R of zero would indicate no relationship. A p-value of .05 indicates a 5% chance of mathematical coincidence but numbers less than .05 are traditionally taken to suggest a non-coincidental relationship.

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