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

This difference was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of ischaemic heart disease (95% confidence interval 6.7 to 13.1 fewer) in vegetarians than in meat eaters per 1000 population over 10 years. The associations for ischaemic heart disease were partly attenuated after adjustment for self reported high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and body mass index (hazard ratio 0.90, 95% confidence interval 0.81 to 1.00 in vegetarians with all adjustments). By contrast, vegetarians had 20% higher rates of total stroke (hazard ratio 1.20, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.40) than meat eaters, equivalent to three more cases of total stroke (95% confidence interval 0.8 to 5.4 more) per 1000 population over 10 years, mostly due to a higher rate of haemorrhagic stroke. The associations for stroke did not attenuate after further adjustment of disease risk factors.

Conclusions In this prospective cohort in the UK, fish eaters and vegetarians had lower rates of ischaemic heart disease than meat eaters, although vegetarians had higher rates of haemorrhagic and total stroke.