Long term vegetarian diet changes human DNA raising risk of cancer and heart disease
Research recently published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution indicates that people who have had a primarily vegetarian diet for generations were found to be likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation. Scientists believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants, however it has the negative effect of boosting the production of arachidonic acid, which is known to increase inflammatory disease and cancer. When coupled with a diet high in vegetable oils the mutated gene quickly turns fatty acids into dangerous arachidonic acid.
The finding may help explain previous research which found vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than meat eaters, a finding that has puzzled doctors because eating red meat is known to raise the risk. Researchers from Cornell University compared hundreds of genomes from a primarily vegetarian population in India to traditional meat-eating people in Kansas and found there was a significant genetic difference. According to Tom Brenna, professor of Human Nutrition at Cornell, those whose ancestry derives from vegetarians are more likely to carry genetics that more rapidly metabolize plant fatty acids., In such individuals, vegetable oils will be converted to the more pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, increasing the risk for chronic inflammation that is implicated in the development of heart disease, and exacerbates cancer.
To make the problem worse, the mutation hinders the production of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acid which is protective against heart disease. Another study found that many vegetarians find it difficult to get enough iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and calcium which ae essential for health. One such study found that vegetarians had approximately five percent lower bone-mineral density (BMD) than non-vegetarians.