Refraining from meat: do vegetarians really live longer? Study surprised

How does diet affect the risk of stroke?

A new study from the University of Oxford showed surprising results. Although the vegetarian and vegan diet can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, it can also increase the risk of suffering a stroke. The researchers suspect that there are vitamin deficiency symptoms, which could, however, be compensated for.

The University of Oxford's recent study found that a vegetarian or vegan diet appears to increase the risk of stroke. The results of the study were published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Data from more than 48,000 people were analyzed

The researchers found that the increased risk of stroke ascertained could be partly due to a lack of vitamins. For the study, the data was analyzed from more than 48,000 people who had no heart disease or stroke in the past and who were divided into three groups: meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, and people who do not eat meat but consume fish (Pescetarians).

Lower risk of heart disease from certain diets

After 18 years, the data showed that there were 2,820 cases of heart disease and 1,072 cases of stroke among the participants. Once the results were adjusted, the so-called pescetarians saw a 13 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to meat-eating people. The risk was reduced by 22 percent in people who followed a plant-based diet. Lower rates of ischemic heart disease were observed in fish eaters and vegetarians than in meat eaters. This was at least in part due to a lower body mass index and lower rates of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.

Stroke rate was increased by 20 percent

Despite the reduced risk of heart disease, the stroke rate for non-meat and fish eaters was 20 percent higher than for meat eaters. This could possibly be due to lower amounts of vitamins consumed by non-meat eaters, the researchers said. Further studies are now needed to determine the responsible nutritional factors and to find out whether a low cholesterol level in the blood could play a role in vegetarians and vegans. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Risks of ischaemic heart disease and stroke in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over 18 years of follow-up: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study, in The British Medical Journal (query: 05.09.2019), BMJ

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