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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 40 percent of all cancer cases are preventable, and the American Cancer Society reports that one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to unhealthy eating habits and a lack of physical activity. Both organizations advise people to eat plant-based foods in order to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Vegan foods—especially fiber-packed grains and beans and phytochemical-packed fruits and vegetables—can help ward off cancer. Research suggests that people who eat vegan foods are between 25 and 50 percent less likely to get the disease.

A 2015 WHO report found that bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meats cause cancer and that red meat—including beef, pork, and lamb—is probably carcinogenic, as well. An array of studies shows that while eating the flesh of chickens, cows, and other animals promotes cancer, eating plant-based foods may protect against it. Here are a just few of them:

  • One study compared cancer rates of 34,000 vegetarians and meat-eaters. The results showed that those who avoided meat, fish, and poultry had dramatically lower rates of prostate, bladder, and colon cancer than meat-eaters did.
  • An 11-year German study involving more than 800 vegetarian men found that their cancer rates were less than half those of the general public.
  • A 2007 study of more than 35,000 women published in the British Journal of Cancer found that women who ate the most meat had the highest risk of developing breast cancer.
  • A study comparing the dietary habits of men in 32 countries found that the highest risk factor for prostate-cancer mortality was the consumption of animal-derived foods. By contrast, another study of men diagnosed with prostate cancer showed that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains can significantly slow the progression of the disease.
  • T. Colin Campbell, co-author of the landmark China Study and arguably the foremost epidemiological researcher alive today, believes that animal proteins are a prime carcinogen. He points out that “human studies also support this carcinogenic effect of animal protein, even at usual levels of consumption. … [N]o chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein.”

Saturated fat is a culprit, too: Higher-fat diets raise estrogen levels, whereas plant-based diets tend to keep estrogen at a safe level that doesn’t promote the growth of cancer cells. Moreover, fiber, which is found in most vegan foods, can help our bodies eliminate excess estrogen, cutting the risk of cancer.

It’s easy to eliminate meat, eggs, and dairy foods from our diets and replace them with vegetable proteins that protect our health instead of harming it. Order PETA’s free vegan starter kit, and start on the path to a healthier you today.