It has been found that long term vegetarian diet can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease in Indians,according to a new study.

Researchers at Cornell University has found evidence that a vegetarian diet has led to a mutation that may make people more susceptible to inflammation, and by association, increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

The discovery by researchers including Kumar Kothapalli from Cornell University in US provides the first evolutionary detective work that traces a higher frequency of a particular mutation to a primarily vegetarian population from Pune (about 70 per cent), when compared to a traditional meat-eating American population, made up of mostly Kansans (less than 20 per cent).

Evoltionary evidence has been provided by using reference data from the 1000 Genomes Project,which shows that the vegetarian diet, over many generations, may have driven the higher frequency of a mutation in the Indian population.

The mutation, called rs66698963 and found in the FADS2 gene, is an insertion or deletion of a sequence of DNA that regulates the expression of two genes, FADS1 and FADS2.

These genes are key to making long chain polyunsaturated fats, researchers said. Among these, arachidonic acid is a key target of the pharmaceutical industry because it is a central culprit for those at risk for heart disease, colon cancer, and many other inflammation-related conditions, they said.

“The physiological demand for arachidonic acid, as well as omega-3 EPA and DHA, in vegetarians is likely to have favoured genetics that support efficient synthesis of these key metabolites,” they said.

Changes in the dietary omega-6 to omega-3 balance may contribute to the increase in chronic disease seen in some developing countries, researchers said.

(With IANS inputs)

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It has been found that long term vegetarian diet can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease in Indians,according to a new study. Researchers at Cornell University has found evidence that a vegetarian diet has led to a mutation that may make people more susceptible to inflammation, and by...